Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

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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 Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It? Romans 15:14

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 11, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to the show audio or download the video file here. 

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, “The Biblical Emphasis on Pastors and Their Authority: Where is It?” 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 begin tonight by surveying the present landscape. The church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Of course, this is all made possible by the working class laity. Pastorate authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. Never before in history have so many willingly paid so much for the privilege of being subservient.

Let me just pull the rabbit out of the hat right now. Let me go ahead and reveal where I am going with all of this tonight, and then I will make my case. We know that America was the first idea in human history that rejected the marriage of faith and force, and the results speak for themselves. We also know why some people deny what America has done for the world because of their ancient presuppositions concerning mankind; i.e., if mankind is allowed to self-govern, chaos will ensue.

There is that crowd, then there is the crowd that thinks mankind is just outright evil, and the American idea emphasizes life and liberty, so America is the antitheses of this whole idea that mankind is evil. And remember, this is not just a religious idea. No, no, no. This is also very prevalent among secular ideas. Some environmentalists would be included among them.

In the minds of the framers of the American Constitution, the marriage of faith and force always leads to tyranny, and history would agree. It all starts with those who are specially gifted to know truth that the masses are not able to understand, and for their own good, the masses that is, or the “great unwashed” if you will, the great seers call on the state to enforce their wisdom for the good of mankind and its overall survival. It is a striving for social justice leading to utopia.

We know that this basic presupposition about man’s ability to self-govern always leads to tyranny, and it now begs the question: culturally, in the church, if truth is married with pastoral authority, is the same tyranny inevitable? We think the answer is “yes.” The marriage of faith and authority in the church will yield the same results as the marriage of faith and force among governments. The problem is the injunction of truth on the majority by the few.

Without getting into another body of study altogether, let me answer some anticipated objections. A couple of weeks ago while Charlie Rose was interviewing the president of Syria, here is a paraphrase of what he said: “Society in general doesn’t accept the use of chemical weapons.” Interesting. What was he in essence saying albeit probably unwittingly? Answer: Romans chapters one and two. The law of God is written on the hearts of every man and his God-given conscience passes judgement on his actions. Why do we need government? For people who are deficient in regard to their faculties of conscience—that’s why.

Let’s note something important moving forward. The behavior evidenced in the church in our present day is consistent across all religions and denominations. Why? Because they all have one thing in common: they marry faith and authority. This is just another institutional church elephant in the room; the question of pastoral authority. And how churches get around this is soooo smooth:

“As pastors, our only authority is in the word of God.”

Well, that’s just wonderful because the Bible covers every nuance of life. While that answer usually assumes the Bible is boss and pastors only point people to its authority, what is really being said is the Bible determines the parameters of their authority which is without bounds if determined by the Bible.

What does this across-the-board authority look like regardless of the particular breed of church? What does it mean when we say that pastors “have authority”? It all starts with a same presupposition concerning mankind. Basically, mankind in general is not able to properly understand reality in a way that brings about social justice resulting in utopia. Man needs to be ruled over for his own good, and those who believe man can self-govern must be neutralized for the good of the many.

This is why the line between churches and liberal leftwing politics is often blurred. Why did some church, I think in New York, recently sue Walmart to ban their gun sales? Because in their mind, you just can’t have people in general running around with guns. In their minds, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.

So, it starts with that philosophy. Now, how does it seek to implement this philosophy? What system dictates the application for the greater good? Again, in ALL religions and denominations it’s the same: mediation, authority, orthodoxy, progressive justification, polity, political collectivism, resulting in the EXACT same results and behavior. This is the technical definition of “the church.” Take note of how often you hear “the church” in the everyday white noise of churchianity.

Mediation. The Bible makes it clear that there is one mediator between God and man: Christ, period. All institutional churches have a concept of what Protestants call the “power of the keys.” This is the idea that the institution represents the body of Christ on earth. Hence, institutional membership is synonymous with salvation. The institution represents Christ’s mediation on earth by proxy. Whatever the church binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever the church looses on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Authority. Vested in the elders/pastors of the church regardless of the fact that Christ clearly stated that ALL authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Pastors are men who have been preordained and specially gifted to know things that the common Christian does not know. Therefore, God has supposedly given them authority on earth for the collective good of mankind. Every institutional church has its own breed of popery.

“But Paul, I am a Southern Baptist and our churches are” …and this is so adorable… “independently autonomous.”

OK, now try to be a pastor of a Southern Baptist church without a degree from a Southern Baptist seminary. Good luck with that. If you are not credentialed, if you do not speak according to authority given you by the church, if your words do not carry authority by the aping of those credentialed, you are nothing but a little yapping mutt that will be ignored. If you tithe enough, people will put up with you and that’s about it.

For the time being, file this away: this is the exact same system Christ was up against when he came. How did He deal with it? Confirming miracles. Remember the paraplegic He healed so that people would know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth?

Orthodoxy. This is the extra-biblical authoritative body of teaching that is developed by those in authority. Since the great unwashed cannot understand truth, orthodoxy takes the higher knowledge of truth and puts it in story form for the spiritually adolescent masses. It’s exactly like story books written for children that explain reality via narratives that they can understand. In church culture, orthodoxy is synonymous with truth itself. This is why in seminary you are told straight up that the knowledge you are learning there is not anything you will be teaching at local churches—they can’t understand it. However, you will learn a lot about being a good spiritual cowboy who keeps the herd from being spooked resulting in a stampede. You will also be taught how to deal with those who think they can know truth, also known as Mad Cow disease.

Progressive justification. All religions and denominations have some form of progressive justification. This soteriology is the necessary gospel that must go hand in hand with mediation, authority, and orthodoxy. It is the teaching that salvation progresses from point A to point B, and the institutional church is the overseer of that progression. This is a hard-fast rule. The church cannot function or survive by propagating the true gospel—it’s impossible and we will look at why this is the case tonight. Why are there so many different religions and denominations? It’s all disagreement on how you get from point A to point B.

Polity. Or “church polity.” This is a soft term for “church government.” All churches have church government. It’s different levels of authority and an epistemological pecking order. In contrast, biblical contra church assemblies are based on fellowship with the Father and His Son—not authority. Historically, churches enforce polity by getting into bed with the government, but post America, the emphasis is control over your salvation.

In pre-American history, if you didn’t believe the church had the authority to take away your salvation, they would simply hang you, drown you, cut you in half, or burn you, not necessarily in that order. So, in our day, the heavy emphasis is authority and control over your eternal destiny. Why do people obey the outrageous notions that flow from the traditions of men? Because their eternal salvation depends on it, and “faith believes all things,” right? One of the favorite truisms vomited out by the clergy is this whole Lutheresque idea that “knowledge puffeth up” and makes people proud.

The real problem is that informed people are very difficult to control. Let me pull another rabbit out of the hat right now. I will make the case tonight that cultism goes hand in hand with elder authority. It is absolutely impossible to separate horizontal authority among God’s people and cultism. Religion plus horizontal authority ALWAYS equals cult. This is an unavoidable and hard-fast rule.

Political collectivism. Here is the dirty little secret: ultimate control is really in the hands of the populous. Why? It’s simple; they outnumber government. In China, if the people decide to rise up, the Chinese government is totally screwed. There are particular things common to people that the framers of the American constitution recognized such as those things that are “self-evident.” All in all, the church has merely stuck its nose in the debate over who owns truth: mankind in general or the state?

This necessarily demands a conversation about the church’s dominion theology. Is God’s kingdom presently on earth, or is it presently in heaven? If it is presently down here, then obviously the church has a dog in the fight. Therefore, since populous rule is the real power in the world, power is determined by how many people you have effectively brainwashed. The church cannot avoid being a political animal seeking to gain control by numbers and infrastructure because it believes it is a nation builder on earth.

This includes all of the trappings of doing good works to endear numbers, and formal education for the purposes of indoctrinating people. Most church hierarchies openly admit that their agenda is to take over every aspect of culture; i.e., education, the arts, etc, etc. The specific quotations abound and are not the least bit ambiguous.

Also, watch out for the “Oh my, missionaries are being persecuted for the gospel in this country, that country, or the other country.” No, many countries are more privy to the dominion aspirations of the church than their own missionaries. In many cases, it is feared that missionaries will incite an insurrection. A cursory observation of history confirms this as a valid concern. Traditionally, church missionaries not only want to get people saved, they want to quote, “transform the culture.” They say it all the time!

Let me stick this idea in here. Do you know how home fellowships could do world evangelism? We could find people gifted to be elders in other countries and bring them stateside to live for a while in the home fellowship network. They would live with a sponsoring family and learn/experience the New Testament model. As they learn and experience, they could be feeding the information back to their country of origin. This would be dirt cheap and very effective.

Do you know how expensive and ineffective world missions are in the institutional church? It’s horrific, and mostly predicated on Western arrogance. I have heard missionaries say it: “Without our academic wherewithal, effective ministry is impossible.” Behold the arrogance: after hundreds of years of trial and error and oceans of ink used in the pontification of orthodoxy, 1600 people a day leave the church and become Nones or Dones. 1500 pastors per month leave the ministry for good. But yet, the church continues to export this failed model overseas on the financial backs of the laity. It’s beyond insane.

Behavior. The results are all the same. Spiritual abuse in the church is just a symptom of the specific problem, church. Stuff happening in the church is not the problem—church is the problem. Thanks to the internet, we now know that the church produces the exact same behavior over and over and over again. We now know that the institutional church is nothing more or less than a super-cult.

Let’s begin to look at the evidence.

Yes, once again, Calvary Temple of Sterling, Va. is back in the news. Let’s listen to the recent news report by MRC TV titled “Sexual Abuse, Broken Families, and Race Cars: The Story Of An Alleged D.C.-Area Cult” dated 4/2/2015/. As you listen to this clip, make a list of the elements such as “authority,” “broken family relationships,” “control,” “divorce,” etc.

Listen, whether the HBO documentary I mentioned last week on Scientology, or my wife’s testimony in regard to her experience in the Baptist church, or what my son shared with me the other night about a Jehovah Witness that he works with and what that guy is going through with his church, or my own testimony, or myriads of testimonies that you can read via the internet discernment blogs, it is all the same basic elements in regard to behavioral outcomes.

Sure, John MacArthur Jr. isn’t going to marry a twenty-year-old and buy a dragster and a race car, he just oversees an in-house police station at Grace Community Church that will escort you out to your car if you ask too many questions in Sunday school. I know from firsthand testimony that MacArthur rules that church with an iron fist. I rubbed shoulders with some of his elders for years. In addition, accusations from relatively sound people that Grace Community Church is a cult abound. One such site is The Watchman Wakes .com / John MacArthur’s cult. Google that and the exact link should come up. Look, all one needs to know for purposes of confirming these allegations is MacArthur’s own words from last week’s sound bites; the inevitable result of the belief that elders have authority on earth is cultism.

Let’s also look at the obvious manifestation of well-behaved tyranny. Even though some church pastors would not engage in some of the more outrageous behavior, by and large, the well-behaved tyrants of the church turn a blind eye to the behavior and even cover for it. MacArthur is absolutely notorious for turning a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the institutional church. Why? The obvious answer is the church’s authority to forgive sins on earth. Without the institutional church, there is no means of salvation for anyone so the church must be saved at all cost. I am not sure what is more obvious.

Look, for example, Jack Hyles could have been shut down years ago. All it would have taken is twenty-five IFB pastors walking down the isle of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind. and rebuking the guy publically on a Sunday morning. Game over. Why doesn’t that ever happen even though it is the exact biblical prescription? Because the institution has to be preserved as God’s authority on earth by proxy—that’s why.

I am not going to rehearse the outrageous details of the ABWE scandal, but in reaction to ABWE refusing to deal with the situation, not one GARB church withdrew from the association in protest, and as far as I know, not one church withdrew support from ABWE. One GARB pastor that I know who was mortified by the scandal nevertheless allowed Michael Loftis, at that time the president of ABWE to speak at their church.

Why?!!!! because there is only one name under heaven by which man is saved—the institutional church and its authority on earth by proxy. This isn’t complicated. Support the church if you will, but also know that you are supporting the divine right of kings to rape, pillage and steel at will.

“But my pastor isn’t like that!” Yes he is—he turns a blind eye to it!

It’s all the same, and they all operate by the same principles; for example, let’s just take one, orthodoxy. For Baptists, what is it? The First and Second London Baptist Confessions. For Presbyterians, what is it? The Westminster Confession. For Jehovah Witnesses, what is it? The Watchtower. For Mormons, what is it? The Book of Mormon. For Islam, what is it? The Quran. It’s all the same stuff resulting in the same behavior. Read history for yourself—none of these religions acted any differently until America came along.

At any rate, the church invests billions in the education and accreditation of pastors. Their authority is expressed in church polity, and they are seen as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy. When one surveys the emphasis on pastors in the church, certainly we should expect to easily find abundant information about them in the Scriptures. A cursory observation of Scripture should reveal their purpose, scope of authority, and a description of their duties.

But in reality, the lack of biblical emphasis on pastors and elders is stunning when compared to the emphasis experienced in the institutional church. If a pastor has authority, where does that authority begin and end? While the idea of elder authority is common, any discussion of the parameters is extremely uncommon and such ambiguity can lead anywhere, and it does. Furthermore, their assumed authority is nowhere to be found in holy writ.

In regard to their importance in general, the specific gift of elder/pastor is mentioned a meager four times in Scripture.

In the most vital portions of Scripture where elders would be prevalent according to their assumed authority, they are not mentioned. In the corrective letters to Corinth where Christianity was completely off the reservation, elders are not mentioned once. In the book of Romans, the magnum opus of soteriology, again, elders are not written about.

In Paul and Peter’s mini-treatises regarding submission starting in the home, to the workplace, and society in general, again, no mention of elders (Eph 5:22-33, 1Pet 2:13-3:7).

In the protocol for solving conflict among believers in Matthew 18, the same. If a person finally refuses to repent of what he has done to a fellow brother, the passage doesn’t say to go tell the elders, it says to go tell the assembly. The process in Matthew 18 is commonly thought to be a process under the control and auspices of the elders, but if that’s the case, where are they?

Sure, when the Greek widows were treated unfairly as documented in Acts 6:1ff, the people appealed to the apostles, but who was given the responsibility to choose what I think were the first Deacons? Right, the saints in general. Not only that, notice that the solution offered by the apostles met the approval of the people. They did not go to the apostles for an edict—they sought their counsel and leadership in the situation, but it obviously needed the approval of the people.

In Philippians 4:2,3, Paul entreats the whole congregation to reconcile the two women who were in some kind of rift, and this is the same pattern found in Matthew 18 as well. Listen, we could go on and on and on and add Acts 17:11 as well, but is this sinking in? Where are the big bad elders? Where are they and their supposed authority? I do believe the apostles had authority, but clearly what they emphasized is the model that would follow after their departure; appeal to the one mind of Christ and not the dictation of authority.

Moreover, not only are elders conspicuously missing, the saints in general are told throughout the New Testament that they are qualified to do ministry that is normally attributed to elders exclusively. A good example is Romans 15:14.

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Another one is 1John 2:27.

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.

Clearly, when it gets right down to it, God’s people can do without elders. Eldership is a gift that is no more or less important to the body of Christ than any other gift. Yes, if God’s people are serious about furthering the testimony and deepening fellowship, they should seek out good elders. But eldership is not a horizontal authority granted by God. Eldership does not represent God’s authority on earth.

Indeed, the apostles did have some of God’s authority, and that’s why they will sit on twelve thrones judging Israel in the final days, but that authority was NOT passed on to the elders. This is why the apostles predominately appealed to the one mind of Christ and not authority.

So, what is in fact the biblical model? Let’s compare the biblical model point by point with the institutional model. Here we go.

Presuppositions concerning mankind. Simple, Romans chapters one and two. Man can know reality and is personally and individually accountable to God. Throughout history for the most part, society in general determines law and what is acceptable. But please do not underestimate the real debate underlying the more visible debates manifested in this question: does man understand the reality that he lives in. He most certainly does. Mankind does not need seers to rule over them who have special insight into a reality that the masses do not understand.

History is a vicious cycle of the masses buying into that philosophy resulting in revolts when the tyranny of it becomes more than they can bear. Life gets to the point where it is not worth living and there is an uprising. The framers of the American Constitution observed this vicious historical cycle of serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, serfism, tyranny, war, freedom, and the lightbulb turned on. America is the greatest country ever because it is the first ever government by the people and for the people.

The Bible is clear, people stand before God at the judgement individually. Be sure of this: the church’s emphasis on pastors comes from the world’s debate on man’s ability to self-govern. According to the Bible, and more specifically 1John, God’s people are able to self-govern because all of them have the same anointing of the Holy Spirit. When it gets right down to it, we have no need for anyone to teach us.

Mediation. There is only one mediator between God and man—Christ. Clearly, the church posits elders as sub mediators. This does not pass biblical muster.

Orthodoxy. There isn’t any. God’s people do not need a dumbed down version of truth written by sub-mediators creating…watch it… here it is, “subordinate truth.” Really? This is absolutely nothing new and the very reason that the Bible is constantly drilling down on oneness: one truth, one mind, one mediator, one Spirit, one baptism, one anointing, one Lord, etc., etc., ect. There isn’t two minds, there is only one and one truth accordingly. And really? There is such a thing as a lesser truth? No, it is either true or it isn’t true.

Progressive justification. No institution or religious hierarchy is needed to get us from salvation point A to salvation point B. This is why we constantly hear, “We don’t believe the gospel and then move on to something else, we never leave the gospel.” “The gospel isn’t the ABCs of salvation, it’s the A-Z,” etc., etc., etc. If your salvation is finished, and you do move on to something else, guess who you no longer need?

The elements of the institutional church follow a logical progression: presuppositions concerning mankind; sub-mediation; orthodoxy or sub-truth; the gospel of progressive justification; church government (polity) because authority trumps fellowship; political activism because God’s kingdom is supposedly on earth (if it wasn’t authority would be absent), and the subsequent bad behavior ordinarily exhibited by the divine right of kings, mind control cults, and institutional ownership of truth.

Church polity (government). Christ’s assembly does not have a government structure. There is no church polity. There is a body made up of gifts that seeks to mature by “mutual edification” through fellowship under one head. There is no government, but rather organization. Here is the organization: gifted elders equip the saints for ministry, and deacons/deaconesses oversee need. There aren’t any bosses; it’s a cooperative striving for a common goal. It’s an organized body where every part is equally valued. It’s just this simple, and this is the exact same analogy seen throughout the New Testament: to the degree that your body is sound, you can accomplish work. Ephesians 4:1-16 spells it out point by point, and so does 1Corinthians chapter 12. That’s not a government—it’s an organized body.

Political collectivism. It is not the concern of Christ’s assembly to take over every aspect of culture. Our concern is to build up the body in love and let the world watch. And watch they will. Our kingdom is NOT on earth—it’s still up in heaven. That’s why we are called “ambassadors” in the Bible. What’s an “ambassador”? An ambassador doesn’t live in a country to…here it is, we hear this constantly…”take over the culture for Christ.” No, we are here to represent another kingdom that is not presently here.

Behavior. The goal is to think like our big brother Jesus Christ and do what He would do. And trust me, the world will take note.

Here are some references that you should read on your own: Matt 23:8, Psalm 133:1, Acts 4:32, Rom 12:16, Rom 14:19… Rom 15:5, 1Cor 1:10, 2Cor 13:11, Eph 4:3, Phil 1:27, Phil 2:2, Phil 3:16, 1Peter 3:8.

Elder authority, where is it? Where is the emphasis on body striving for unity in one mind? EVERYWHERE! Let’s now go to the phones.

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

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

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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.

Institution as God’s Mediator

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 2, 2015

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 offence 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 video clips that make the point.

Pastor James MacDonald on Elder Authority.

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