Paul's Passing Thoughts

Helping Tim Challies and Other Calvinists with Evangelism

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

Originally published January 29, 2015

ChalliesYesterday, I was sent the following article about Calvinist evangelism written by blogger Tim Challies: How To Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Miffed by the suggestion that somebody knows better than me how to offend Calvinists, I immediately read the article.

Apparently, according to Challies, Calvinists get offended when people suggest that their soteriology hinders evangelism.  According to Challies, the argument goes like this:

Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Protestants en masse think Calvinism’s greatest sin is weak evangelism, and of course, that makes them very angry because it’s supposedly the last criticism standing. I could start with the fact that Calvinism is works salvation under the guise of faith alone, or progressive justification, or salvation by antinomianism. Pick one; any of the three will work. But I have a mountain of data on that subject already; let’s do something different. Yes, let’s use Challies’ own words in the post to refute his argument. Before we call on Challies to refute his own protest, we will address his take on church history.

We go to history to show that the great missionaries, great preachers, and great revivalists of days past were Calvinists, and that Reformed theology was what fueled their mission… There are only so many times I can point to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and the Great Awakening, or William Carey and the great missionary movement of the nineteenth century, or Charles Spurgeon and the countless thousands saved under his ministry. Sooner or later I have to stop looking at my heroes and look to myself. I can’t claim their zeal as my own. I can’t claim their obedience as my own.

In the post, Challies argues that we know that a straight line can be found from Reformed theology to evangelistic zeal because of history. Supposedly, Calvinists throughout history were driven directly by this deterministic gospel to reach thousands. It is very interesting when you consider the examples given which will aid in making my point.

The Great Awakening had absolutely nothing to do with Reformed soteriology. We should know this as a matter of common sense to begin with because the Holy Spirit doesn’t colabor with a false gospel. The Great Awakening was fueled by the ideology of the American Revolution and was expressed to a great degree in churches, especially among African Americans. Fact is, guys like Edwards and Whitefield then got on their horses and rode around the countryside bloviating and taking credit for the freedom movement tagged with “The Great Awakening” nomenclature.

Fact is, the Great Awakening was a pushback against the Puritan church state driven by Reformed soteriology that came across the pond as a European blight on American history. I would liken Challies’ assessment to our present President taking credit for things he is against when the results are positive.

What about Spurgeon? That example is just too rich because it makes the last point for me. Spurgeon, who once said Calvinism was no mere nickname but the very gospel itself, was the poster boy for getting people to come to church in order to get them saved. That’s important, hold on to that because it’s our last point.

But before we get to the last point, let’s look at the major point: Challies argues against the idea that fatalism hinders evangelism, and then confesses that he doesn’t evangelize like all of the great Calvinists in history because of…fatalism. Calvinism doesn’t cause fatalism resulting in lame evangelism, but Challies doesn’t evangelize because of fatalism.

After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel… We go to the pages of Scripture to show that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not incompatible, but that people truly are both free and bound, that God both chooses some while extending the free offer of the gospel to all.

So why does Challies not evangelize according to him? First, because he just doesn’t, but secondly, he is responsible:

It is my conviction—conviction rooted in close study of God’s Word—that Calvinism provides a soul-stirring motivation for evangelism, and that sharing the gospel freely and with great zeal is the most natural application of biblical truth. But it is my confession—confession rooted in the evidence of my own life—that my Calvinism too rarely stirs my soul to mission. The truths that have roared in the hearts and lives of so many others, somehow just whisper in me. The fault, I’m convinced, is not with God’s Word, or even with my understanding of God’s Word; the fault is with me.

He is responsible, but not often stirred. And what’s his solution? There isn’t one, it is what it is; he is responsible, but not called to evangelism. No corrective solution is offered in the post. Why not? Because, as he said, we are responsible, but unable. Responsibility and inability are not incompatible. So, Calvinism doesn’t hinder evangelism, but if you don’t evangelize, there is no solution. Others did it, and you don’t, the end.  Well, I suppose that approach doesn’t prevent evangelism either!

And funny he should cite Edwards. Susan is doing a session on Edwards for TANC 2015 and is studying his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. She approached me and wanted to discuss something about the sermon that she was perplexed about. Edwards spent the better part of an hour addressing the total hopelessness of man and his likelihood of ending up in an eternal hell, but in the end offers no counsel on how to escape. Why? Because if God is going to do something, he is going to do it, and man is responsible either way.

This now brings us to the final point with a bonus; we are going to help Challies with his evangelism shortcomings. There is, in fact, a solution for Tim’s lack of evangelistic zeal. He doesn’t properly understand Calvinism and its history. This isn’t about saving Tim from the false gospel of Calvinism, this is about being a good evangelist in the context of Calvinism. If I can’t save a Calvinist, I can at least teach them how to be a better Calvinist. Really, it’s disheartening when Calvinists don’t properly understand Calvinism.

This is how we will help Tim Challies. We will bring him back to the historical significance of Spurgeon using some of his own observations. First, let’s get a lay of the land; how does true Calvinistic evangelism work? First, it is the “sovereign” gospel which means the subject must not be told that they have a choice. This is some fun you can have with Calvinists. Ask them if they tell the recipients of their gospel message that they have a choice. Most will avoid answering because they don’t want to admit the answer is, “no.” By their own definition, that would be a false gospel speaking to man’s ability to choose God.

Secondly, if God does do something, if “the wind blows,” that puts the subject in two categories according to Calvin: the called and those who persevere.  The called are those that God temporarily illumines, but later blinds resulting in a greater damnation. Those of the perseverance class are the truly elect. So, the “good news” is that you have a chance to make it. But, if you don’t make it according to God’s predetermined will, your damnation is greater than the non-elect. God has either chosen you for greater damnation or the jackpot, but I guess it’s worth a try if God so chooses.

But hold on, and this is huge: all of that can be bypassed by Calvin’s “power of the keys.” What’s that? If you are a formal member of a Reformed church, and the elders like you, whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Furthermore, according to Calvin, sins committed in the Christian life remove us from salvation, but membership in the local church and receiving the “impartations of grace” that can only be found in church membership supply a perpetual covering for sin. And here is the crux: one of those “graces” is sitting under “gospel preaching” of which Spurgeon was chief. In one way or the other, Spurgeon sold this wholesale and the results speak for themselves.

See, the solution for Challies is simple.  There is a solution for the disobedience he himself is responsible for: simply invite people to church in order to “get them under the gospel.” And that often looks like this…

Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission.

Problem solved. That’s how Calvinism is a straight line from its theology to evangelism—you are saved by being a formal member of a Reformed church, and your salvation is sustained by remaining a faithful member of that church and obeying everything the elders tell you to do and think. But let’s not call it intellectual rape, let’s call it “keeping ourselves in the love of Jesus.” Let’s call it “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” Let’s call it “being faithful to the church every time the doors are opened.” Let’s call it “putting ourselves under the authority of Godly men.” Let’s call it “trusting God with our finances.”

You’re welcome Tim, glad I could help.

paul

TANC 2015 – Paul Dohse, Session 3: What is the Gospel?

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

We don’t hear much about one of the primary biblical terms used for “gospel.” The gospel is also known throughout Scripture as “the promise.” A promise made by God; think about that. But who is the promise to?

Acts 2:36 – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

This is an extraordinary text. Clearly, the gospel is a promise to all men contingent on believing in the promise, and resulting in the “gift” of the Holy Spirt. This is a fundamental principle of Biblicism: when a particular text is absolutely clear, and barring all assumptions, everything else must align logically with the concepts that are clearly stated.

Hence, the Protestant definitions of “election,” “called,” and “chosen” must be completely reevaluated. The gospel is a promise and a gift offered to all men.

…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

And who does the Lord call to himself? Everyone.

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isa 45:22).

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (Jn 12:32).

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’(Eze 33:11).

Biblicism does not reject mystery, or paradox, but always approaches the latter with extreme skepticism. Biblicists consider paradox guilty until proven innocent. God is not a God of confusion, but be sure of this: the paradox card is more times than not a license for a mystery that only the spiritual elite understand—those who have the rule over you.

If the promise and the gift are verbally offered to all people, but the offer is not legitimate for all, that makes the use of these words completely illogical. Though the issue of election will not be explored in this series, the basic wrongness of Protestants who propagate so-called “sovereign grace” must call their deterministic gospel into question. Those who have the basic gospel completely wrong cannot be trusted with the rest of the story.

However, the fact that salvation is a promise and a gift will be key to exposing the false gospel of Protestantism in simple terms. The Bible defines the gospel with these specific words for good reason – words mean things.

What is the Gospel?

1Corinthians 15:3 – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

These are the facts of the gospel, but in Paul’s statement much more is assumed rightly because of other texts that further define what is being stated here in 1Cor 15:3-6. Obviously, no one is saved by a mere believing of the facts concerning the gospel. As James wrote, the devils believe also and do tremble in regard to their future condemnation. The facts do need to be believed, but what saves is the following of Christ in these facts. In other words, it’s not a mere believing of the facts, but also the belief of what the results of believing are, and a desire to want that for yourself.

You believe the promise, and the gift, and you want the gift for yourself. The gift is the baptism of the Spirit, and believing in the transaction that takes place. It’s believing the promise and “receiving” the gift.

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

It’s amazing that the unsaved understand this in their own way. It’s just a fact that the unsaved understand the gospel intuitively better than the vast majority of Protestants. Most unsaved people know that salvation involves the loss of who they presently are in exchange for a new life that is in the wind so to speak. This is what Christ was telling Nicodemus as recorded in John 3 and why Nicodemus came to Him under cover of darkness—Christ was a threat to the present life he knew. The fact that Christ told him that he must be born again which would result in a new, and completely unpredictable life correlates with the fact that Nicodemus came to Him under cover of darkness. Nicodemus was afraid of losing his present life, and therefore, Christ addressed the issue forthwith.

“Just believe” and “faith alone” minus the new birth is a Protestant hallmark. It boils down to a mere glorified assent to the facts of the gospel. It is not the losing of present life in order to find the new one. It is not repentance, i.e., a turning from the old life and following Christ in literal death and resurrection. Water baptism is a public confession that you understand this. Now many will protest that we are doing something to be saved other than believe; we are “following” Christ. But it is a decision, not some work of following. The Spirit does the baptizing, not us. We are saved by wanting that for our life and accepting the gift that is offered.

But likewise with any gift, once it is given, the receiver owns it. It is now up to us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12,13). Here, “salvation” refers to redemption (the saving of the body, Rom 7:24, 8:23), not the saving of the soul, and work/fear refers to the new Christian person and life, not our onetime new birth. The Christian life is a process; the new birth is a onetime event.  Before we were saved, our fear regarded condemnation.  Now our fear regards chastisement and sin that leads to unnecessary deaths (consequences for sin). There is no work FOR salvation, but there is a work IN the Christian life, specifically, a work of love (Gal 5:6).

On the flipside, even though there is not a work FOR salvation (justification), there is a work IN being unsaved that has a specific wage paid by a specific master. We met him in the previous session, the sin master. This is how the Bible frames this: there are two masters who pay two different wages: one pays wages for death, and the other pays wages for life. ALL people in the world are earning one or the other in varying degrees. Either group can do bad or good works (Rom 6:20), but one can only be credited for death, and the other can only be credited for life. These are two different wages paid by two different masters.

These two groups, lost and saved, are under two different laws that determine their wages. The lost who belong to the sin master are “under law” and its condemnation, the law of sin and death. Those under this law can only bear fruits of death. In contrast, those purchased by Christ (“you have been bought with a price” 1Cor 6:20, 7:23) can only bear fruits for life. They are identified as “under grace,” or under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 6:14, 8:20).

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is why Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4). The law that He ended is the law of sin and death. EVERYONE born into the world is under the law of sin and death and condemnation. This is how we know Christ died for everyone ever born into the world. He also purchased mankind from the sin master; eternal life is the promise, new birth is the gift (if received by faith) resulting in freedom from condemnation and the fruits of death. The believer now “upholds” the law he/she is free to serve: the law of the Spirit of life also known as the “law of Christ” and the “law of liberty.” Salvation is a free gift, but the Christian life is a work that can earn rewards.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

God would be unjust to forget you labor of love in sanctification because you are earning rewards, and there is no fear in regard to condemnation because that concerns judgement:

1John 4:18 -There is no fear in love, but perfect [mature] love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. [Because they fear condemnation].

This is what is critical about the new birth, or the baptism of the Spirit. The old man that was under the law of sin and death died with Christ, and is now free to “serve another” through being resurrected with Christ:

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Here is a good place to speak of God’s calling to mankind. This is a good place to talk about how God pushes man to the brink of salvation—to the gates of the kingdom. God, in His calling of man, does everything but make the decision for him.

First, God creates every human being with the works of God’s law written on their hearts, and a conscience that either excuses or accuses them. Those without the word of God will be judged by this internal law, while the religious will be judged by both (Rom 2:12-16). Until a human being develops a conscience, they are not under any law and therefore without sin (Rom 4:15). Man has intuitive knowledge of God’s gospel (Rom 1:18-21).

Secondly, the Holy Spirit uses the law of sin and death to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come (Jn 16:8).

Thirdly, believers use the law of sin and death to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.

Fourthly, believers testify about God to the world with their lives (Matt 5:14-16).

Fifthly, Christ has purchased all men with His death on the cross. Their sin debt is prepaid. They have already been purchased from the sin master. They themselves choose to remain under the control of their present master, but their contract has been bought out, they are free to choose Christ as their new master.

Sixthly, even the law that condemns unbelievers holds their sin captive. Even the law of sin and death is a “ministry” (2Cor 3:7-11). The first covenant which is passing away (Heb 8:13) held sin captive in the law of sin and death until Christ came (Gal 3:19-27). Christ ended the law for righteousness to those who believe in Him. Our sins are not merely covered—they are ENDED along with the law of sin and death. ALL sin was held captive in the law of sin and death that the old us was under, but upon believing, that man died and is now under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). We are now fee to work through love as guided by the Scriptures (Gal 5:6,7). Our obedient love fulfills the law (Gal 5:14, Rom 8:4, Rom 13:8-10, Matt 22:34-40).

Seventh, God increased the law through the first covenant to drive man towards him (Rom 5:20).

Eighth, God made man a living being, but after the fall he made mankind His very family (Gal 3:29, Heb 2:11).

Ninth, in the end, God will vacate heaven and dwell with His family on earth. God Himself comes DOWN to earth to dwell with man (Rev 21:3).

This is some of the good news of God’s love for mankind.

TANC 2015, Andy Young – Session 3: The Believer’s Identity

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 3, 2015

This is session 3.  We’ve been challenging presuppositions regarding a believer’s identity, especially this notion that believers are sinners.  That’s what we hear most often in just about every Christian circle, in just about every church you go to around the world.  The emphasis that we are sinners.  That because we are sinners we still need a savior.  And of course this particular emphasis flows right out of the reformation.  This was taught by Calvin and Luther, this idea that believers don’t change, that they are still under law, that they are still in need of daily salvation.  We have a term for that, it’s called progressive justification.  And whether people want to admit it or not, anyone who echoes these kinds of sentiments – and this is just one indication of the kind of theological ignorance that exists among believers, they are actually espousing a progressive justification viewpoint with these kinds of statements.

So we’re trying to reverse the damage that has been done to the spiritual psyche of the believer as a result of years and years of having this mantra constantly pounded into our heads.  You are a sinner, you are a sinner, you are not perfect, you are totally depraved, your righteousness is filthy rags.  We need to stop telling ourselves these things, and we need to change the narrative and look at what the Bible actually has to say in this regard.

Session 1 was devoted to our identity with respect to the new birth.  What that actually means to be born again, and why that is important.  And then in session 2 we explored the contrast between the old and the new, and we saw how that the “New Man” is actually a reference to the one spiritual body that was made up of people from every nation and status in the world.  How we are no longer identified as either Jew or Greek, etc…and we become part of this New Man, the Body of Christ.

So now in this last session on the believer’s identity, I want to take a look at a few more ways that the scriptures refer to believers.  And these won’t spend as long as we did on the first two, so we should be able to run through these rather quickly, but that doesn’t make them any less important.  Each one of these is a critical part of our identity as believers.

So the Bible says the believer is born again, he is a new creature, he is part of the New Man, the Body of Christ.  What else is he?

A saint

How is that for a title?  Did you know you’re a saint?  Now here is a word that couldn’t be any farther opposite from sinner!  Do you know how many times believers are referred to as sinners?  I could probably point to no more than maybe 5 at most.  And even in those instances it is always in the past tense. Do you realize the frequency that believers are referred to as saints?  62 times in the NT, believers are referred to as saints.  62 times!  I’m not going to show you all of them, but here are a few select.  You’ll see that in just about every epistle the believers are addressed as saints in the salutation.

Romans 1:7  “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1Corinthians 1:2  “Unto the assembly of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”

Ephesians 1:1  “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”

Romans 15:25-26  “But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.  26  For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

Ephesians 4:12  “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

And we could go on and on and on.  Believers are saints.  Now, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, take a look at this word in the Greek.  Do you know what the word saint is in the Greek?

αγιος (hag-ee-oss) – “Holy”

Look at that.  Holy.  In each of the 62 instances it is this word for holy.  That means you could go through each instance, 62 times in the NT, and replace the word saint with holy, or holy ones.  The Bible calls believers “holy ones”.  You are holy.  Did you know that?  You are not a sinner, you are holy!  You are a holy one.

Now if any of you watching online now or maybe later on when this is archived, if you tuned in last year for the conference you will remember I talked about Sanctification.  And in my first session last year I walked us through scripture and we were able to derive a truly biblical, meaningful definition of this word holy?  Does anyone remember what we came up with?  If you don’t remember or if you didn’t tune in for that session, here is the definition we came up with for holy.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.  (profane)

And as we worked through our understanding of this word we discovered that the opposite of holiness was not sinfulness, but profane.  And profane in the Biblical sense has to do with this idea of being common, or ordinary, or just like everything else.  So, while it is true that believers are not sinners – we’ve already established that through the new birth – we have a special status.  We are holy.  We are distinct from that which is profane.  We are not common, we are not just like everybody else.  Some people like to use the term “set apart” as a means of understanding our sanctification, and that’s a good way to look at it because it encompasses this notion of being distinct.  Setting something apart makes it distinct.

So this takes us back to the sanctification issue that I talked about last year.  And I think it begs the question, if we are saints, if we are holy, if we are distinct, ought we to not act like it?  And I don’t mean we go around casting judgment on others and act like we are better than everyone else.  But if we are in fact holy, don’t you think our behavior should reflect that holiness?  See, we don’t let our behavior define who we are, but rather I think it’s the other way around, who we are should manifest itself in our behavior.  And you can think back to our last session on the New Man, were we had this contrast between behaviors that characterized the old man, like lying and arguing and licentiousness, and behaviors that characterize the New Man, loving each other, caring for each other, and so on.   And you see the motivation for this is love.  This has to do with love for the law and keeping the law.  Not for justification, but because we love our Father and we love others, so we use the law in this way, we keep the law out of a motivation of love.  And this is the reality of what it means to be a saint; to be a holy one.

So believer’s are saints.  What else are we?  How does the Bible refer to believers?

Oh I love this one.

A child of God

I know I have a lot of references here, but can we just take the time to read through these.  It’s such a good reminder, and it’s such a blessing!

Romans 8:14  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Romans 8:16-17  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  17  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Romans 9:26  “And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

2 Corinthians 6:18  “And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Galatians 3:26  “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 4:6  “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (daddy reference)

Ephesians 1:5  “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”

Ephesians 5:1  “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

1 Thessalonians 5:5  “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

1 John 3:1-2  “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…  2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God…”

And of course this goes right back to all the things we talked about in session 1.  How is it that we are children of God?  We are children by virtue of the new birth.  Do you see how significant the new birth is?

Being born again, being born of the spirit is being born of God.  Where God is your Father, and you are His child.  If you deny the new birth, you deny your identity as a child of God and you forfeit all the rights that go with that as being sons.

Now there’s a lot more that can be said about the significance of being a child of God.  You saw the reference about being an adopted child.  Now an adopted child is what, one who was not born to the parents who have legal custody of him, right?  So I don’t want us to misunderstand when Paul uses this terms referring to adopted children.  The new birth is a reality.  We are born of God in every sense of that word.  The new birth is an actual birth.  It is not something that we have already that God then accepts as His own and reforms it.

What Paul is referring to here to the Ephesians has to do with the relationship to Israel.  There was always this distinction between promises made to Israel that will be fulfilled with Israel, and how Israel would always have a claim to the promises and covenants that God made to her children.  And since the Gentiles were not part of Israel, what happens when a Gentile believes is that he is then made part of Israel, adopted in that sense, and so he then has access to those same promises by rights as an adopted child.  He said this also in Galatians that those who come to faith in Christ are considered the children of Abraham, adopted into the promises made to Israel.   And he elaborates on this even further in Romans.  So I want you to understand that this notion of adoption is a reference to being included with Israel in the promises and does not contradict the reality of the new birth.

There is another significance to being a child of God.  Let me ask you something.  Those of you who have children, when your children disobey you, do they stop being your children?  When your child fails somehow, does he stop being your child?  Or when your child grows up and starts his own family, even though he is no longer under your roof, does he stop being your child?  Does your child ever stop being your child?  No, and so from this we begin to understand this doctrine of eternal security.  You want to know why you can never lose your salvation?  Because you are a child of God.  God never disowns you.  You can’t be unborn into His family.

Now of course we know of instances where our children may not want to be a part of our family.  They may run off and not act like our child.  But they are still our child.  There is some aspect of this to be found in the parable of the prodigal son.   Now I understand that the main purpose of that parable was to draw a contrast between the Pharisees and the other religious leaders and the remainder of Israel, and that Israel was like a lost son who had run away from his Father.  Jesus said he came to save the lost children of Israel.  And so there is this picture of God calling out to his lost children to come home to him.  But if you notice something else in that story, the prodigal son never stopped being a son.  The Father looked for him every day to come home.  He was ready to bestow upon him the riches that were there for him.  And so in that sense there are sometimes believers who wander away and don’t act like sons, but they never stop being sons.

And I kind of touched on another point there; this thing about being a child has other significance too that I will get to in a moment.  But before we get to that, along with being a child of God is this next point.

A brother of Christ

This one might be a little controversial because it’s not something that you here brought up much if at all.  But I think it is a reality that is taught in scripture.  Scripture doesn’t say much about Christ being our brother, but there are a few passages that reference it.  Let’s start with this.

Matthew 12:46-50

“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.  47  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  48  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  49  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Alright, so what exactly is Jesus saying here?  Let’s first understand that when we read the word “disciples” in any of the synoptic gospels that it’s not just a reference to the 12 disciples.  It is clear if you read the gospels that Jesus had a lot more disciples or learners that just Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the rest.  Whenever the writer wants to make this distinction he usually refers to them as “the twelve”.   But whenever we see the generic reference “disciples” that’s a reference to all of them.  And this was a number that reached into the hundreds at times.

So among these disciples following Jesus, are any of them his mother?  No.  So it’s easy to assume that when Jesus makes this statement in verse 49 that it is not a literal reference to his physical earthly family.   Not only that, but Jesus Himself states very plainly what he means by his statement.  He explains it.  Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.  We all have people in our lives that we regard as family who are not literally a part of our family.  I have a very good relationship with my wife’s parents, and I regard them as my mother and father ever though they did not give birth to me.  I even call them Mom and Dad.  That’s the kind of relationship we have.  That is how close we are.  You may have a best friend who you think of more as a brother or sister than simply a friend.  And of course this has to do with the nature of your relationship with them.

So the point Jesus is making in this statement has to do with how He views His relationship with those who do the will of the Father.  He views them as family.  Now by extension, we can take this one step further.  When we consider the reality of the new birth, that those who do the will of the Father are those who are born again, then in reality, we are then literally part of God’s family, including the Son, Jesus.  So as far as God’s family is concerned, we are all brothers and sisters, and that would include Jesus.  We can be considered as brothers and sisters of Christ.  And I believe in this passage here in Matthew, that is exactly what Jesus is talking about.  But what else does scripture have to say about this family relationship we have with Jesus?

Romans 8:29

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

I’ve underlined the key phrase in that verse.  If you study the grammatical structure of that verse, “firstborn among many brethren” is speaking of the Son.  And the preposition “among” is inclusive.  It indicates inclusiveness.  If you are among something you are part of it.  If you are among the crowd you are included in the crowd.  What Paul says here is that there are many brethren, and Jesus is one of them, more than that, he’s the oldest.  He is the firstborn.  And if we think back to our study of the Body of Christ, the New Man, His right as firstborn makes Him the Head.  How is it that Jesus is firstborn?  He was the first resurrected following the ending of the law.  And as such, each believer, by virtue of the new birth is resurrected just like Christ, we are born anew, as new creature that is not under law.  A new creature that is also a child of God.  And if we are a child of God, and Jesus is the Son of God, that makes Jesus our brother.  Our oldest brother, our firstborn brother.  We see this same idea expressed here as well.

Colossians 1:18

“And he is the head of the body, the assembly: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence”

Here again is that reference to Jesus being the firstborn, and His right as firstborn to be the Head of the Body.  If any of you out there are an only child and have always wanted a brother or a sister, think about what a wonderful reality it is to know that you are now part of a family full of brothers and sisters, and the God of Heaven is your Father.  And because of that, Jesus, the King of Kings, is your brother!

Now we’re talking about brothers and sisters and families, and I want to jump back to another point I alluded to earlier when we were talking about being a child of God.  I mentioned how that being a child of God has another significance to it.  As the Son of God, Jesus was entitled to certain privileges.  As the firstborn, He is made Head of the Body.  We have certain privileges as well, since we are also children of God because of the new birth.

Because of the new birth, the believer is an heir to the Kingdom of God.

An heir to the Kingdom

And this is the last point I have about a believer’s identity.  An heir to the Kingdom!  Take a look at some of these passages

Romans 8:17

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”  Here’s another reference that alludes to Jesus being our brother.  We are joint heirs with Christ.

Galatians 3:29

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Being born again makes us part of Abraham’s children and eligible to participate in the promises and covenants made to Israel.

Titus 3:7

“That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

James 2:5

“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

Of course when you talk about being an heir to something that means that there is an inheritance waiting for you.

Inheritance

Ephesians 1:14

“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

This is talking about the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is an earnest payment.  Like a down payment.  A good faith payment that there will be a full payment coming at a later time.  The Holy Spirit is a part of our inheritance given to us now as an indication of a promise of more that is to come later.

Ephesians 1:18

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”

Colossians 1:12

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”

Colossians 3:24

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

1 Peter 1:3-4

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,”

And there are several things that are in view here with regard to inheritance, eternal life not the least of them.  An incorruptible body, eternal fellowship with the Father.  We don’t really know what we will be doing for eternity, but we know for certain that there is a Kingdom that awaits us.  This is what Jesus came to earth to offer.  You may have heard pastors say, what did Jesus preach?  What was His message?  And they’ll say He preached the gospel.  We need to preach the gospel.  Well what gospel?  The word for gospel simply means a good message.  Any good message is the gospel.  The word for evangelist is literally “good messager”  To evangelize means to “good message” someone.  To deliver a good message.  To deliver the gospel.  But what gospel?

When you go back and read through the NT, if you study carefully, what you will notice consistently is that when a reference is made to the gospel, it is consistently referred to as the gospel of the Kingdom.  When Jesus is introduced in the gospels, when His ministry first starts, it says he was preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.  The apostles preached the gospel of the Kingdom.  This is what we have to offer people when we tell them about Christ.  He came to offer a Kingdom.  And your ticket into the Kingdom is the new birth through faith in Christ.  The new birth makes you a child of God.  As His child you have an inheritance waiting for you.  You have the right to everything that the Father owns.  He bestows it upon you.

One day, this old heaven and earth are going to melt away with a fervent heat.  And in their place will be a new heaven and a new earth.  And the City of God, the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven and come down upon this new earth.  And God will make His tabernacle with man.  God will dwell with man forever and ever.  This is the city that Abraham looked for.  A city not made with hands, whose builder and maker is God.  And we will dwell there with the Father.  This is what we have to look forward to!  This is our inheritance as believers.

I hope that at the end of this study you have a better understanding of just who we are.  We are not sinners.  We are not totally depraved, unrighteous, wretched people.  We are new creatures.  We are born again.  We are part of the New Man with Christ as the Head.  We are God’s children.  Son’s and Daughters of the heavenly Father.  We a part of God’s family with Jesus as our brother, joint heirs with Him in a heavenly inheritance that awaits us.  This is the blessed hope that Paul spoke of.  Not hope as in a wishful thinking.  This is a hope that is a joyful anticipation of something that is assured.  As believers, this is the way we need to be thinking.  We need to be aware of just who we are.  This is knowledge that empowers us and affects everything we do in life.  We go into the world armed with this knowledge, think of how much more effective our witness and our testimony is to those we’re trying to reach with the gospel.  Think of how much better our own lives will be.  We focus on the good instead of evil.  We don’t rejoice in iniquity.

And I could go on and on here, but I hope you get the point. And I think that might be a good way to wrap up this session, by opening things up to you out there, and let me ask you, how do you apply this to your life?  What does this mean for you personally?  How does this affect you?  What ways does this make you think differently?  I leave you with these questions, so please feel free to answer and share with us any thoughts you might have.

Podcast link: listen or download audio file. 

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TANC 2015: Paul Dohse Session 1 – Introduction to Biblicism

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

Session 1: Introduction to Biblicism

Who do we think we are? Why would Western culture be immune from populous deception? In fact, history, even recent history reveals the dangers of collective logic whether by tradition or some sort of neo-movement. Moreover, examples of bad fruit coming from collective logic can be taken from the best of what Western culture has to offer.

There is one constant that shapes culture; change occurs as a result of bad fruit. The collective pain threshold begins to surpass the threshold of life value. Society then becomes split into two types of people: those with new ideas and those willing to listen.

Tyranny has always been a foolish endeavor by virtue of God’s design of things. The reason is simple: the people always outnumber the rulers, and the rulers need people to have a government, and you can only kill so many people. This is why controlling the way people think is so important; this taps into the human resource without killing the donor.

From the cradle of society, caste was the norm. Unfortunately, the consensus had always been that bad fruit had nothing to do with the system, but only those running it. The American experiment was the first successful challenge to collectivism. The definition of the words and the understanding of them are a matter of life and death on a massive scale. For example, “individualism” does not exclude cooperation and organization for the common good, but rather, asks who will determine what the common good is and how one reaches that conclusion. The assumption that individualism leads to societal chaos has in fact produced chaos in incomprehensible proportions.

Once again, history is repeating itself in many ways, but the particular aspect that TANC focuses on is Protestantism. Once again, fruit demands reevaluation because of the threshold of pain. But this time of historical reevaluation is utterly unique because it is post American Revolution. For the first time in over 500 years, Protestantism faces a reevaluation without the force of state at its disposal.

Nevertheless, Protestantism has done its job well. It yet has no fear of replacement because those who have given up on it believe there is no alternative. Hence, its utter failure has produced no competitors. The Nones and the Dones are just that, none and done. Yet, lest Protestantism would break from protocol and show mercy to its detractors, the Nones and the Dones are declared damned to hell on their way out to the wilderness of hopelessness because being a member in good standing in the institutional church is synonymous with loving Christ and being a legitimate part of His body.

We at TANC reject such an arrogant notion with extreme prejudice, and believe we understand a legitimate alternative—a return to the assembly of Christ and its priesthood of believers. A return to individual gifts, not spiritual collectivism; fellowship, not membership; leadership, not dictatorship; organization, not institutionalization; not many masters, but only one; a body, not a corporation, and finally, freedom of conscience. Individual saints with one word, one Lord, and one body. It’s a body, not a spiritual caste system, and we have but one mediator—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Biblicism

The alternative to Protestant orthodoxy is Biblicism. What is it? Let’s begin with a definition from Wikipedia. This is by far the best definition of Biblicism that I have ever found, and unfortunately listed under an alternative name for Biblicism, “Biblical Literalism.” And, as rightfully noted by Wikipedia, often used as a pejorative. Don’t you know, any Biblicist that has read Matthew 5:30 has cut off his right hand or feels guilty that he hasn’t. Let’s examine the definition:

Alternatively, the term can refer to the historical-grammatical method, a hermeneutic technique that strives to uncover the meaning of the text by taking into account not just the grammatical words, but also the syntactical aspects, the cultural and historical background, and the literary genre. It emphasizes the referential aspect of the words in the text without denying the relevance of literary aspects, genre, or figures of speech within the text (e.g., parable, allegory, simile, or metaphor).

Let me add that Biblicism starts with literalism and the plain sense of the text first, and then utilizes the elements of the historical-grammatical methods as needed to make the rendering consistent with the rest of Scripture. As one person has said, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” Let me also add that Biblicists would normally be impressed with a method of interpretation known as Occam’s razor. Again, we are indebted to Wiki for a definition:

…a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

In context of the lay person, learning is a jigsaw puzzle. I want to use this example of a jigsaw puzzle that is a map of Xenia, Ohio. Let’s say the map, to the degree that it is fitted together, represents knowledge of Xenia. Until the puzzle is completely fitted together with all of the pieces, what do we do with the pieces that we can’t get to fit into the map presently? Answer: we lay those pieces aside for the time being. Dear layman, you don’t need the scholars. In fact, please remember that we live in the Information Age. Study to show yourself approved as a “workman.”

As a parenthesis regarding interpretation, let me offer all the proof you need to know that every verse of Scripture must be interpreted in context of justification or sanctification; Christians, throughout the New Testament, are referred to as “workman.” If justification is not a finished work, the fact that we are participants in it is unavoidable, either by direct participation or intentional non-participation. Intentional non-participation is doing something. If justification is not a finished work, invariably, religious formulas for work works and faith alone works emerge. The problem here is evident: if you can lose your salvation, what do you have to do, or not do, in order to keep it?

The Dirty Little Secret

What we are talking about here is deductive/inductive study of the Bible that begins with the presupposition that man is able to reason. Here is where we must stop and state a huge historical fact in this matter that is irrefutable. Historically, there have only been two schools of thought on Bible interpretation: the historical-grammatical method, and the historical-redemptive method.

But please, if you don’t take anything else away from this first session, please know the dirty little secret in all of this: these are ALSO two different ways of interpreting reality itself. Listen: the Protestant Reformers started first with their interpretation of reality, and then extrapolated that method onto the Bible as well.

If you have been following our TANC series on the first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, you know that Martin Luther laid the foundations in that document for the historical-redemptive method of interpreting reality and consequently the Bible as well. Luther believed that all of reality is a redemptive metaphysical narrative written by God. Look out the window right now. See that car driving down the street? The only reason that just happened is because God wrote it into the script of the metaphysical narrative, what many of the Reformed call the “divine drama.” Reality is nothing but a story written by God.

Hence, salvation is only an ability to perceive or “see” the story. The unregenerate are defined by those who think they have ANY measure of freewill. To have freewill is the ability to write your own reality. Luther’s assessment of freewill is therefore called “the glory story of man.” Either one confesses that God wrote the story of history and reality, or man is foolishly trying to write his own reality.

Luther received this idea primarily from Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory, established the Protestant Reformation with its premise, and John Calvin later articulated its supposed life application in the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. It called for a repeat of our spiritual baptism throughout the Christian life by progressively seeing/perceiving two things: the depravity of man and the holiness of God. Plunging the depths of our sinfulness supposedly brings about humbleness and self-death resulting in a resurrection of joy regarding our original salvation. Therefore, the joy of our salvation is progressively increased throughout our Christian lives regardless of circumstance. In fact, tragedy only facilitates our ability to see our depravity and the judgement that we deserve. Tragedy is merely a part of God’s prewritten gospel narrative.

Consequently, Spirit baptism is not a onetime event, but is repeated throughout our Christian life. The Bible has one purpose and one purpose only: to aid the “believer” in continually revisiting salvation and the perpetual revisiting of Spirit baptism. This is an official Protestant doctrine called mortification and vivification. Several Protestant organizations use the chart below to illustrate this doctrine and the historical-redemptive use of the Bible:

gospel-grid

Therefore, God uses circumstances and the Bible to help us in the downward trajectory illustrated by this chart. A contrary perspective on reality is illustrated by another chart widely published by Protestant organizations:

shrinking-the-cross

What is behind the popularity of this worldview? Simply, an ability to live a carefree life without fear of unknown circumstances (with the only exception being your eternal destiny). We all know that investing in life can set us up for enhanced disappointments and suffering. This is a worldview that completely separates us from the responsibilities of life and its suffering. Don’t worry, be happy, it’s a just a divine video tape anyway, and what will be, will be. If one of your loved ones dies tragically, don’t sweat it, it’s just part of God’s divine drama prewritten before the foundation of the earth. Besides, God is using this to make the gospel bigger and you smaller. Listen, even Protestants who don’t get this function according to the same worldview: “It’s God’s will.” “I didn’t do it! God did it!” “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” All of these Protestant truisms fit the downward trajectory of the above cross chart.

As far as Biblicism, there is a huge pushback against it. A focal point of the pushback is a book written by Protestant turned Catholic Prof. Christian Smith titled, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. I must credit the Christian Research Institute with the following review of the book which is endorsed by many evangelical heavyweights such as Rachel Held Evans, and will help us further define Biblicism:

Smith asserts that biblicism is the constellation of ten different assumptions or beliefs: (1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language. (2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity. (3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible. (4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text. (5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense. (6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions. (7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency. (8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians. (9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study. (10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

While some evangelicals may downplay or deny some of these points, Smith suggests as long as you hold to some of these points, you are still a biblicist (pp. 4–5).

Before we address these points for a clearer understanding of what Biblicism is, it shouldn’t surprise us that the only alternative in the book is the Christocentric hermeneutic which is the same thing as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. It sees the gospel or Jesus in every verse of the Bible as a result of interpreting reality itself through the suffering of the cross. It should be noted that this hermeneutic is crossing over into Catholicism as well.

(1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language.

A Biblicist believes no such thing. God used fallible humans to write the Bible over 1600 years in many different languages. Because Christ warned that there would be serious consequences for tampering with God’s word, we can assume many have in fact tampered with it.

The key follows: the Bible is God’s statement on being including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The Bible is not without error in the transmission of these truths, but none of the truths are lost due to God’s oversight and assistance. Included is the way that the Bible was written, or its overall structure of checks and balances. As the “workman” studies to show himself approved, God’s principles become more and more apparent.

(2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity.

This point is vague, but one assumes it speaks to the accusation that Biblicists believe the Bible speaks to every detail of life like how to fix our cars etc. While the notion is absurd, the Bible does tell us what kind of car-fixer we should be—not the details of a how-to-manual. The Bible is a manual for how we should love God and others, so while it does not give specific instructions on how to fix our wife’s Toyota, it does convey a principle of love that would prevent us from taking shortcuts on safety issues in order to save money. If it’s our wife’s car, we don’t repair the brake lines with duct tape, etc.

(3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible.

This is true, and the reason for the contention is evident: the sole purpose of the Bible should be to show us how wicked we are, not instruction on loving God and others.

(4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.

True, with the exclusion of the straw man argument that the meaning in every text is always “plain.” The Bible states that individual study is required, and acknowledges that obtaining understanding can be difficult work.

(5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense.

This is true as the primary organizing principle, but gain, the straw man is the assertion that Biblicists believe this is true of every verse.

(6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions.

This is absolutely true because Biblicism rejects spiritual caste systems of all kinds. Teachers are a help, they are a gift to the church for purposes of equipping, NOT an office. But when it gets right down to it, in context of the apostle John addressing the Gnosticism that was wreaking havoc on the 1st century church, he stated, “You have no need for anyone to teach you.” Biblicism is predicated on collective individualism, not group-think overseen by an elite class of those who supposedly possess the “gnosis.”

(7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency.

Absolutely. Again, the complexities of the Bible are used to argue against human reason as a valid epistemology for reasons of selling a redemptive interpretation of all reality.

(8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians.

Sure it is. Loving God and others pertains to principles that are universal.

(9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study.

In regard to loving God and others, absolutely.

Note the continual distinction being made between love and law. There is a specific reason for that which we will see more of later.

(10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

The word “practice” factors in huge here. As previously noted, Protestantism defines salvation as an ability to see/perceive/experience APART from practice. Therefore, the Christocentric approach to interpretation of reality, and consequently the Bible as well, will reject any practice by man to be of any value to God. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Bible is to aid mankind is seeing that all righteousness is an alien righteousness completely outside of man.

So, this is an introduction to Biblicism. In the next session, we will look at the Biblicist gospel, its evaluation of law/gospel, the nature of God, the nature of man, evangelism, and the nature of sin. In the fourth session, we will examine Protestantism and the extreme contrast that it presents. I will conclude this first session with a few more principles of interpretation:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Two basic interpretative principles can be drawn from these verses. First, some things we cannot know, but what we can know we are responsible for. Second, we have no need for interpretive mediators between us and God. There is only ONE mediator between God and man—Christ.

Podcast link: includes before and after discussion. 

TANC Homework 2015 #2 Lucian’s Zeus Catechized

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on July 8, 2015

immel 3By John Immel

Dear Reader, If you don’t know it yet, TANC 2015 is at hand (a little biblical language for you Calvinist Aficionados). I am assigning homework for the attendees.   Answer the following questions. They should be pretty easy.

Questions:

1. Zeus references the Sophists. Who were the Sophists?  (Hint: watch my 2013 lectures)

2. …[Read more at Spiritual Tyranny.com]

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