Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Ten Pillars of Contrast: God’s Prescribed Home Fellowships Versus the Institutional Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 23, 2015

As I catch up on reader homework, church drama is truly overwhelming. I find the information sent to me astounding. I was tempted to write five posts and I do not have time to do so—not even close. So, here are ten pillars (see Revised Twelve Pillars) that I believe are at the crux of what we see in the mega-soap opera called “church.” Come out from among them and be separate—let the dead bury their own dead.

I. God’s Kingdom is NOT on Earth

This paves the way for dominion theology and the marriage of faith and force. It also causes misplaced priorities among God’s people.

II. Focus on Individual Sanctification NOT Collectivism

In case anybody hasn’t noticed, the institutional church has no answers for victorious Christian living. In fact, the concept is openly mocked. The focus is the success of the institution as a salvation vessel. Ministry success is measured by the growth of infrastructure, not individuals.

III. Priesthood of Believers

Vertical aspect: One authority being Christ and His word as the one mediator between God and man. Horizontal aspect: fellowship and gifts, NOT authority and spiritual caste.

IV. Salvation is Finished

Justification is complete when the believer passes from death to life via the new birth.

V. The Judgment

Christians will not stand with unbelievers in a final judgment to determine justification. All people who stand in the final judgment are already condemned. Christians will stand in a separate judgment to determine rewards.

VI. Meeting Financial Need, NOT Institutional Taxes

New Testament tithing is according to meeting needs. Tithing to an institution is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

VII. God’s Prescribed Model by Default

It is clear that the beginning of the “church” took place in homes; yet, the idea that this model was transitional or a contrary institutional model is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

VIII. The Church Discipline Myth

The New Testament prescribes “self-discipline” and the “Lord’s discipline” but nowhere speaks of a discipline performed by the church. Fellowship is based on active fellowship and NOT authority. Eldership is a gift, NOT the authority of God by proxy. Elders are to use their gift of teaching to persuade God’s people for their own benefit and the building up of the body of Christ to God’s glory.

IX. Salvation is of the Jews

Gentiles did not replace Israel, but are made partakers of the commonwealth of Israel through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

X. Rejection of Gospel Centrality

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are tri-equals in Justification and sanctification. We baptize in the name of all three. IF there is a centrality, and we do not believe there is, it would the Holy Spirit and not Christ. He is the promise to mankind and Christ.

The Potter’s House: Israel and Revelation 12

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 31, 2014

Potters House logo 2

PART ONE TRANSCRIPT

All right. Tonight we’re going to be looking at Revelation 12, if you want to go ahead and turn there. The big news right now is the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and per the usual when Israel is in the news like this, the anti-Israel rhetoric is ratcheted up to a great degree. I figured we’d weigh in on this before we continue on our Roman series next week. Our particular interest coincides with our ministry, which is research on Reformed Theology, and there is no lack of discussion to be found when discussing the Reformed view on Israel. The subject of Israel clashes with the Reformed thought in many areas.

First, let me say this. Anti-Israeli sentiment is simply satanic, all right? When it gets right down to it, the Bible in Ephesians 6:12 says that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Primarily, that’s a good thing to remember. But against the rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil and heavenly places. Save that thought. Hold on to that thought because I really want to apply it to what we’re going to be learning in Revelation 12, okay? This is something that we ought to remember often that humanity is in the middle of cosmic warfare between Satan and God. Our subject today is not at all far off from what we’ve been looking at in regard to predestination and election. The more we learn, the more we suspect that God has predetermined the outcome of this cosmic war as way of election. So what we’ve learned is, learned positively from other places in the word of God, that God elects outcomes, okay? We all want a good ending to the story, right? And he’s elected groups of people to bring about that end. But as we move through time from past history to the future, people have free will to take sides in the warfare, okay? The Bible states that God created hell for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:24 states, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into eternal life prepared for the devil and his angels.'” So notice that when people are judged by God in the end, they are sent to a place that was not prepared for them. I think this is worthy of notation that man did not create hell, or that God did not create hell for men. Well, if God has predetermined some for destruction and some for salvation, why wouldn’t it be prepared for them? Add to that that Christ died for all people, John 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:1, and God is not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-9. Also, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, Ezekiel 18:32.

One thing we must understand is that the Reformed tradition struggles with the grammatical biblical view of Israel for a couple of reasons. First, this whole Promised Land thing, the geography thing, emphasis on earthly soil does not fit in to the Reformation’s Gnostic view of the visible or the material being evil and the invisible being good. A plot of land also means a literal kingdom on earth for Israel, which throws their whole progressive justification soteriology and the contradiction in confusion, okay? An actual literal plot of land is good for a dispensational view but not a Reformed view of progressive justification. Secondly, and worse yet, Israel as a nation, having salvation ramification completely turns the Reformed applecart upside down. The Reformed crowd likes to make a very distinct separation between Israel as a nation and what they call spiritual Israel.

Before we get into Revelation 12, a word about confused Calvinists. Always remember that Israel is a big problem for the tie that binds. Gnosticism with progressive justification is the application. There will be many variances of the central idea but progressive justification, the idea that salvation isn’t a finished work, or that justification likewise is not a finished work is still the underlying false gospel that drives most denominations in our day, especially those of the Reformed sort. Now I think around 2009, John MacArthur Jr. opened up an annual shepherd’s conference with a controversial message propagating the following. Supersessionism or replacement theology contradicts election. Israel is elect, so the idea that the Church replaced Israel must be a contradiction. The message caused a lot of stir, and MacArthur’s Calvinist friends thought that they had been ambushed at the conference. But the idea that one’s election can be lost is in no wise contradictory to what Calvin taught. So what John MacArthur was teaching is that, hey, you know, we Calvinists, we believe in election. So how can you not be for a dispensational view to some point of the Bible? MacArthur is confused about many aspects of Reformed Theology, and this is one of them. Calvin believed that the called were a class of elect who are temporarily illumined. And I’m not going to cite the citations. I’m worn out from citing the Calvin Institutes on this. The idea that people can lose their election is not inconsistent with Reformed Theology at all.

This Calvinist approach can also be split up into two groups. What some prefer to call immutable justification and mutable justification. The former believe that three groups are predetermined: the non-elect, the temporary elect, and those who persevere. The latter holds to the idea that people can actually determine their final faith if they persevere by remaining faithful to the New Covenant. What does that entail? For all practical purposes, remaining faithful to a local expression of the institutional church–show up, tithe, and make life easy for the elders. This is the Galatian problem all over again because their justification is progressive. They must do the right things to stay justified. But the requirements are a dumbed-down version of the law in the form of traditions of men. And I’ve talked at length about some Calvinists about this, and they say that it’s not keeping the law per se that keeps you safe, it’s being, and this would be the crowd from the mutable justification or changeable justification, the idea that if you’re faithful to the Covenant, i.e. the local church, and that you’re as faithful as you can be, you’re in. That keeps you justified.

The other immutable crowd comes from the position that it’s all predetermined. There’s absolutely nothing you can do except to work out your own salvation with trembling and fear to see if you make it in the end. And you can come to have an assurance of salvation as long as you see yourself being faithful, but you won’t know for certain whether the called temporarily illumined, or those who receive the gift of perseverance and persevere to the end, okay? And this is arguable. I’ve quoted the Calvin Institutes on this constantly. Paul warned the Galatians that if they wanted to be justified by the law, they were accountable for all of it, not the dumbed-down traditions of men versions. Now that’s Galatians 5:3. Paul goes on to say that justification is a finished work wherein there is no law. Law is now a guide for works of love and sanctification. And that’s in Galatians chapter 5:6-7.

So I got away from my main point a little bit in that let’s look at a few things here from Revelation 12. Let’s kind of go through and look at the verses, and let’s focus on the very important point that I want to make in this passage that Israel as a nation is part and parcel with redemption, the redemption plan, okay? The redemption plan that is elected by God. And we had a study on this from the book of Romans where we went into this pretty – people like to make a big dichotomy between national Israel and spiritual Israel. And the Church is now spiritual Israel and the true Jew is really one who is part of the church that has replaced Israel because it fell from its position. The Bible plainly says Israel is elect. How can they say that that was lost? Especially if you read Jeremiah 31 where it’s absolutely clear. Well, again, in Calvinism and the Reformed doctrine in general, there’s a difference between the called and those who have been granted the gift of perseverance. When you’re saved, you’re entered in to the salvation lottery. You’re entered in to the race. And the race is not for rewards. The reward is salvation.

Now let’s look then at Revelation 12:1. “And a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and on her head a crowd of 12 stars.” Though this passage uses a lot of symbolism, it is not difficult to interpret. The woman is national Israel, and this passage shows how Israel as a nation cannot be separated spiritually from soteriology. We will see this as we progress. But let me drive the point a little more with Ephesians 2:11-12. So let’s borrow from Ephesians a little bit here in our study. Verse 11, Paul says, “Therefore, remember that at one time, you Gentiles in the flesh,” okay, those once slave to the flesh before they’re saved, “called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision which is made in the flesh by hands,” verse 12, “Remember that you were at that time,” when they were unsaved, “You at that time were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” All right, what’s a commonwealth? We’ve looked at this before in our study of Romans sometime ago. The idea of commonwealth has national connotations to it, and you were strangers to the covenants of promise. And we also looked at covenants being used in the plural there. Why is that? Because all of the covenants in the Old Testament work together to build and culminate on the one final New Covenant in the end.

And I note that in my notes here that we spent a whole lesson on making all these points and the fact that Israel as a nation, Israel’s identity as a nation cannot be separated from God’s salvation plan. And that’s why we love Israel, the nation, and that’s why we look at great interest with what’s going on in Israel today. Well, Israel is a secular nation, and remember, we’re learning more and more that secular is not always necessarily evil. The United States was founded as a secular nation. Obviously, it was a secular nation in regard to the decision that they would stay neutral in religion, that they would focus on freedom of religion but as a government, not take sides, okay? So that’s not necessarily evil for a government to say, “We’re going to rule and not take sides in regard to religions.” Well, Paul, then, what’s their standard? Well, first of all, they were ordained by God. And secondly, as we often talk about, all men born into the world have the law of God written on their hearts with their consciences, either accusing or excusing their behavior. All right? We’ve talked about this before. The Nuremberg trials, what law was used? They got to gather these nations and brought these Nazi war criminals up on charges before I guess you would call the World Court because what they did was horribly wrong. Well, says who? From what law book? Why did men all gather together and agree that really along with the rest of the world that this was absolutely horrible behavior? Where has such a law come from? Only one place. Man is created with that intuitive knowledge of good built in, part of the creation.

Okay. So verse 2, “She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains in the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven. Behold a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. And on its heads, seven diadems.” Go down to verse 4. “His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth, and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she bore her child, he might devour it.” Okay, so what’s this a picture of? This is obviously a picture of Christ coming out of Israel, the nation Israel, which gave birth to Christ. This is a woman with, what was it? 12 stars on her head, which is obviously the 12 tribes of Israel, okay? And so the dragon stood before the woman who’s about to give birth so that she bore her children that he might devour it. Well, okay, yes, this could pertain directly to – remember when Herod tried to have Christ murdered by murdering all the infants in Israel, amongst the Jews from two years old down. But I think this speaks generally to the kingdom of darkness trying to destroy Christ.

Verse 5, “She gave birth to the male child, one who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” So what we have up until verse 5 is the introduction of national Israel, the fact that the Messiah or the Savior came out of Israel, the fact that the kingdom of darkness, Satan, tried to destroy the Christ who came into the world as a man. And notice that he will rule all of the nations with an iron rod. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. This is literal. This is the millennial kingdom. This is where Christ will rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and Israel as a nation will be the head of the world and not the tail. And there’s much, much information about this and the details of the millennial kingdom in the Old Testament. He wasn’t able to destroy Christ. Israel’s child was caught up to God and to his throne. That of course is the resurrection. Okay. “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”

So basically, what we have in chapter 12 is a thumbnail of all redemptive history up to the tribulation period is what we have, and really beyond with the mentioning of the millennial kingdom where Christ will rule the nations with an iron rod. Now we all look forward to heaven for many things, but this is one reason we look forward to redemption. As we study the Bible, it’s not heaven per se, I suppose. We’ll be given assignments and work to do, and I guess that will be in heaven and in the millennial kingdom. But we know that at the end of the millennial kingdom and after the white throne judgment that there is a new heaven and a new earth, and heavenly Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and that’s where God tabernacles with man on earth. Again, this kind of upsets the Gnostic applecart big time, right? You’ve got the invisible coming and dwelling with the physical. You have God coming down from heaven and dwelling with man, which of course the Exodus and everything with the tabernacle with Israel was what God wanted then, right? So basically, that finally comes about. The tabernacle represented God’s desire to dwell on earth with men.

So let’s say instead of talking about going to heaven, let’s talk about redemption. One of the things that we will look forward to enjoying is in the millennial kingdom, there will be justice, okay? This is the point here. Christ will rule from David’s throne in Jerusalem with an iron rod or a rod of iron, and things are going to be done right. There’s going to be justice. There’s going to be fairness, okay? We’re going to be able to look at that and see that happen as set against the injustice that we have to live with all the time in this world. Things are going to be done right, and that’s going to be a glory. Also, another thing that will be glorious as set against what we’re used to, and I look forward to this, Israel will no longer be the ugly stepchild of the world that everybody beats on. They’re going to be the head, the Old Testament said, they’re going to be the head of the nations and not the tail. And all of this frustrating persecution and horrible treatment and anti-semitism that we see against Israel, we’re going to be able to set that against the extreme opposite being true in the millennial kingdom. For me, that’s something to look forward to. And when I see this incessant anti-semitism that we experience in our culture and in history, I’m always encouraged and I always think, even though it makes me angry and frustrates me, the thought that comes to mind is, “The day is coming. The day is coming when all of that is going to be made right.”

Now verse 6, “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” So what Revelation 12 does here is we have the creation of Israel as a nation; we have the fact that the Messiah comes out of that nation, the fact that Satan tries to devour that child, then we have in verse 5 him going back to God and his throne. So this is up to the resurrection, and you can throw the birth of the Gentiles being grafted into Israel in there. Now we’re jumping in to verse 6 which is definitely during the tribulation period, the seven-year tribulation period. Now look, this is the only place 1,260 days fits into anything. That’s what? Three and a half years, right? Okay. There’s no place else in all of scripture to put these 1,260 days. There’s only one place these days can go, and that is the seven-year tribulation period.

What we see here is that there’s a persecution of the woman in these days, and somehow Israel is protected for that many days from being wiped out. I don’t know what happens. One day we will study the book of Revelation. For now, suffice it to say, Israel as a people is protected as a people for these many days. Now a war arose in heaven. Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fight back. This is interesting. Eight, “And he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Now we know up until this time from other scriptures, especially in the book of Job, that Satan and his demons have access to heaven and apparently even go there and dialogue with God. I think Satan is also called the Accuser of the Brethren, and what the Hebrew writer talks about in regard to Christ being our advocate, I think this is where Christ is our advocate in heaven. Now the Reformed crowd teaches that he’s an advocate for a continued imputing of his righteousness to us to keep us justified, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think Christ is our advocate in sanctification because even though we’re sanctified and our justification is a done deal, we’re continually accused in heaven by the accuser of the what? The brethren.

So verse 9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who’s called the devil and Satan and the deceiver of the whole world.” I find this interesting too. The concept all through the Bible as Satan being a deceiver of the world. I just find that interesting in that this is in the mix – how should I say? If our eternal faith is predetermined, why have the kingdom of darkness being capable of deception? Why is that even in the mix? And if we’re so totally depraved, if mankind is in general totally depraved, why do we need a deceiver? So just a thought. I’m not saying that’s a big deal but just something to think about. Anyway, he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Now this is undoubtedly in the middle of the tribulation period. During this time when Israel is protected somehow, whether supernaturally or God used his other nations to protect Israel, I don’t know. I know this for a fact. The book of Revelation is going to read like the daily newspapers during that time. In the book of Daniel, we find that during this time knowledge will increase, we read in the book of Daniel. I think what will increase is the book of Revelation is what’s going to increase. That’s the knowledge that’s going to increase. This is where all heck breaks out on earth. We have the seven-year tribulation period, and I think when Satan is cast out of heaven, I think this is where we have the great tribulation, which is the last three and a half years.

Verse 10, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying now salvation and the power of the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before God.” So again, this is where I believe the Hebrew writer talks about Christ being our advocate. I think this is what’s going on.

Verse 11, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony for they love not their lives even unto death.” Hold the fort. Wow. What translation do you have?

Susan: King James.

Okay. I believe what I have is the ESV, and I believe we’re missing something. Wow. Okay. It’s going to be in verse 6, okay? “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for God and where she was nourished for 1,260 days.” Is there any more to that verse?

Susan: No. And it’s “prepared by God,” not “prepared for God.”

Okay. Somewhere in there, I’m not finding it, when there’s a – he puts out a flood to try to destroy the woman. But anyway, when he can’t destroy the woman, he wages war against her offspring.

Susan: That’s in verse 15, 13, 14, and 15.

Oh, okay. We’re not there yet. Okay. So anyway, “And they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell on them, but woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows that his time is short.” So the heavens will rejoice that he’s finally been cast out, but woe unto the earth because this is when this great wrath comes.

All right, 13. “When the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” Now who is that?

Susan: Israel.

That’s Israel, the Jews. Verse 14, “But the woman was given the two wings of a great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness to a place where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time,” and again, that’s the three and a half years. So you can kind of coincide this with what Christ said in Matthew 24, I believe, when he said, “When you see the abomination of,” or the…

Susan: Abomination of desolation.

Yeah, abomination of decimation [SOUNDS LIKE] or whatever it was, where Satan goes into the temple and sits there and proclaims himself, he says, “Flee.” He says, “Don’t even go back to the house to get anything. Flee.” So apparently, this happens suddenly. And I don’t know what all happens there, but wherever they flee to or whatever they do, they’re protected for these three and a half years. “So the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman.” And I believe people during that time are going to be able to read in the book of Revelation and know exactly what that’s talking about. I don’t know what that symbolizes, but they’re going to know then what it symbolizes. “So the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to help the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from its mouth.” Again, we don’t know what that’s going to symbolize. It may be some kind of supernatural event or it may be something else.

Verse 17, “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring on those who keep the commandment of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” And what I think that is referring to, the dragon can’t destroy Israel, so then he goes after her offspring. Who do I think that is? I think that’s the Gentiles, okay?

Susan: The believing Gentiles.

The believing Gentiles who are alive during the tribulation period. He can’t destroy Israel. Somehow Israel is protected for three and a half years. Satan knows his time is short. He can read the Bible too and know what’s going to happen. So basically, here is where you, I believe, get this great slaughter and persecution of Christians during the tribulation period. Apparently, that’s going to be mostly Gentiles. I do believe the offspring spoken of here is the Gentiles because they came out of Israel. Again, I want to make the point here that Israel as a nation is very relevant to God’s redemptive plan, and we got to keep that in mind. Any questions or comments?

Susan: It’s obvious from what is written in Revelation that this is a national Israel and not a spiritual Israel that we’re talking about here.

Right. And that’s my point. I think we make a big mistake in scripture when we try to make this huge dichotomy between spiritual Israel, whatever that is, and national Israel. And that’s why as Christians, we don’t look at Israel as just a “sliver of geography” that people use to eclipse the glory of Christ. And do you know how many Reformed people have said this to me and the dispensational people in general that you’re accused of making a plot of land more relevant than Christ himself, you know? So again, there’s this dichotomy. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, their real problem is that we’re talking about material land. And if it’s material land, it can’t have relevance because it’s evil, because it’s material. So yeah…

Susan: Nowhere in the scripture was the material land promised to Abraham given then to David ever described as being evil. It was Promised Land, a land of covenant, a land of promise, a land of hope. Now did evil happen there? Yes. There were evil rulers, et cetera. We all know the history of the nation of Israel. But all throughout scripture, there’s always that connotation that it is a land significant to God, not evil, significant, blessed and important to God for redemptive purposes and for his elect. And how much more we as believing Christians need to bless the land of Israel?

Right. Absolutely. So any other comments? All right, well, we’ll wrap that up for tonight, and hopefully that will be useful for some folks.

PART 2 TRANSCRIPT

PAUL:  So we’re going to look at Revelation 12 again, and the reason we are is because Israel, of course, is in the news, and we all know that, and we’ve all been following that. But what is prompting me to look at Israel on the Bible, particularly at Revelation 12 is when Israel is in the news like this, the anti-semitism just comes out of the woodwork. It’s crazy, especially among professing Christians. I was on a back on forth on Facebook till two o’clock in the morning about this. And granted, it’s primarily the Reformed crowd, their unabashed anti-semitism is just over the top. And of course what we’re saying is – the reason we’re saying this is because we’re in an era right now in the American Church that is the return to the hardcore Protestant doctrine and gospel. I mean, this is a return to the authentic article, and that is where this anti-semitism comes from, or replacement theology, this whole idea that Israel fell from grace and has been replaced by the Gentile church, which is exactly what the Apostle Paul warned against in Romans 11, very sternly warned about “boasting against the branches,” so to speak. Okay? (more…)

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