Paul's Passing Thoughts

Josh Duggar: The Protestant Gospel Strikes Again

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 22, 2017

19-kids-counting

Originally published May 22, 2015

Yawn. Here we go again. The Catholics no longer have the market on sexual child abuse cornered…for some time now. Pray tell, how much longer are all of the clichés going to cover for this stuff until people finally realize that there is a serious fundamental problem underneath the hood of the Protestant magical yellow bus supposedly going to heaven.

May I suggest a false gospel?

How many children will be sacrificed for the sake of evangelicals saving face? I understand that Westerners don’t want to admit that we fell prey to the same en masse religious deceptions found in the East, but the price of children is way too high for the redemption of Western pride. Besides, Germany trashed the notion during the 40s anyway.

Dear discernment bloggers: in case you haven’t noticed, you cannot save the Protestant church. You are now merely gossip peddlers; nothing more or less. And enough with your whiney open forums: truth is found as promised by Christ in His word, not your pooling of ignorant uninformed opinions leading to more and more confusion.

It’s time to stop and question everything, and the answers are egregiously simplistic. It’s time for the solution.

The first century Christians met in homes for mutual edification because that is the intended model; always was, always will be. The “church” was NEVER meant to be any kind of institution. The Protestant gospel was designed for institutional purposes. The five word gospel, “Christ died for our sins,” was derived from spiritual caste presuppositions and an institutional mindset.

Catholics like Protestants because they both share the same metaphysical presuppositions concerning mankind and a call for oligarchy. Hence, the few will always be sacrificed for the collective good. Name one victim who has found justice in the church. Where is this victim? Where is Christ’s one in ninety-nine? You search in vain. That’s because in the Protestant five word gospel, “victim” is a misnomer.

What’s your first clue? Regardless of the fact that Josh Duggar confessed to child molestation in 2006, he was appointed as executive director of the Family Research Council. They knew. Everyone knew. James Dobson probably knew. Sigh. You really think it’s about families? Really? Are you that naive?

Again, the fundamental problem is egregiously simple: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more than five words. Christ died so the old us could also die. The old us should be dead. But it isn’t, so we continually return to the death of Christ to seek forgiveness for our total depravity. By focusing on our total depravity, grace abounds, and those who know how sinful they are—are actually more qualified to be Christian leaders. And because of that, the Duggars are among the Grace Philosopher Kings, and the American Christian peasantry still doesn’t understand these things.  Well, Josh must resign and once again Christianity has lost a great leader because of the Pharisees. In essence, this is the same worn-out Protestant response being proffered in the press by the Duggers.

Also missing from the Protestant five word gospel is our resurrection with Christ. Instead of emphasizing the holiness of new creaturehood, we rejoice in the evil that supposedly manifests Christ’s living, not a “righteous living of our own.” We have not died with Christ, nor have we been resurrected with Him. This is a gospel that is totally off the biblical reservation.

Gee whiz, it’s testimony to the fact that there is a lot more grace work to be done in the church—boy howdy—God’s people still do not understand grace. Poor Josh must resign because there are still way too many Pharisees in the church.

When are God’s people going to stop falling for all of this? When are the discernment bloggers going to beat their keyboards into tools for solutions instead of brushes for whitewashing the tombs of dead people? It’s not a few bad apples, it’s the whole Protestant basket.

And when are Christians going to see the five word gospel for what it is? When is the investment made in error going to look like dung in comparison to the children who have been made to stumble?

paul

Why Home Fellowships Can Help Abused Women and the Institutional Church Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 15, 2017

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published March 31, 2015

In our vision for a return to the way Judeo-Christian assemblies were done for about the first 300 years, let’s look at why home fellowships can help abused women and the institutional church cannot.

I would like to use this article as a catalyst for argumentation. The article was posted (author is not clearly stated) by Anna Wood who co-authored a book with Jeff Crippen, a Reformed pastor. The book can be found here.

The post is titled, What domestic abuse victims need from the church. My contention is that abused women cannot get what they need from “the church” as demonstrated over and over and over again. In fact, clearly, as also demonstrated over and over and over again as well, the institutional church adds to the abuse and becomes a co-abuser.

Why is this? The article offers a perspective from which to answer. This issue also speaks to the differences between home fellowships and the institutional church, hereafter “the church.” In an institution, it is easy to sign on the dotted line, give at the office, and pretend. Pastors can bark from Calvin’s Geneva pulpit all they want to; all folks have to say is, “Hey, I am a member in good standing, and as often heard, humble and incompetent—it’s not my gift and I am not qualified.” Likewise, in said article, the author’s call to “get involved” is going nowhere in the church in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

To the contrary, home fellowships are comprised of people who are sick of playing church, are weary of being mere spectators, and are not looking to walk into an arena with hungry lions, but know it could lead to that. They are also confident in the Spirit-filled laity and recognize where 500 years of academic popeism has brought us. In addition, they have a literal view of reality versus the functional dualism that drives orthodoxy. What am I saying? I am saying that home fellowships have a radically different worldview than orthodoxy and this will lead to aggressive participation in all kinds of needs.

Let me further this point by using the article at hand:

Statistics say that one out of four women in the United States experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. And, if we know of someone in the community who is being abused, I also believe we have an obligation to help if we can. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.

What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. Isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.

Whoa, what a minute here! This is entirely unrealistic because of the message constantly drilled into the heads of Protestants. We are “all just sinners saved by grace.” We are, according to one prominent evangelical, “enemies of God.” According to yet another, “we hate God.” On the one hand, it is constantly drilled into the heads of those in the church that “when you are dead, you can do nothing,” but on the other hand we really think that parishioners shouldn’t think twice about getting involved in a domestic abuse situation?

First of all, getting involved in domestic violence is not “pretty simple.” Actually, it can get you killed by someone who doesn’t much appreciate your intervention. Moreover, getting the facts and evaluating the situation biblically is far from simple. Now couple that with the constant total depravity of the saints mantra heard in the church and it is little wonder that few will get involved in domestic abuse needs. The completely upside down worldview of the church makes laity involvement in domestic abuse nothing more than a pipe dream.

And, “Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.” This complaint is not only a mere symptom, but is not even a symptom of the real problem. Congregants not only fail to defend the oppressed, they either turn a blind eye or defend the defender of the abusers—the church. Ever heard of SGM? Ever heard of ABWE? Ever heard of the SBC? In case you haven’t noticed, they are not only still in business, but business is booming! Why? Because regardless of what happens in the church, it is the only ticket to heaven. “What? so billions of people should go to hell because some bad things happen in the church that is made up of sinners? Well, get a grip—where there are people, there is sin!” That is in quotations because this is exactly what we hear in response to a “cry for justice.”

So far, if you are keeping notes, we have two reasons the church cannot help abused women: 1. The total depravity of the saints resulting in a few “experts” attempting to minister to a massive throng 2. Salvation is found in the institution, and therefore the institution will be defended at all cost. Better that a few suffer by themselves rather than all of humanity being sent to hell.

Before we move on to the next points, a little more clarification: why does the church defend abusers? It starts with its worldview. Without going into a lot of detail, we must first recognize that Calvin and Luther are the church’s heroes, and then recognize what their “theology of the cross” was all about. This is a philosophy that interprets all reality via the suffering of the cross. As Luther stated, “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.” Luther, as well as Calvin, split reality into two epistemologies: the cross story and the glory story. Only preordained leaders can lead the great unwashed masses in the cross story—only the preordained can save humanity from the story of man, or the glory story. As Al Mohler once said, “pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance.”

fake-church-sign-first-baptistHowever, theologians of the cross and the spiritual peasantry have something in common: we are all just sinners saved by grace. So, everything going on in the material realm is fairly insignificant—it’s just the same old sin and dance anyway. But by the same token, theologians of the cross are preordained of God and invaluable. And besides, many are icons of the institution that keep the money rolling in. Sure, you can reject this theory and opt for another one, but in the process you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why ABWE defended and protected Donn Ketcham until the bitter end.

Need another example among myriads? What about Jack Hyles? The guy was a mafia don dressed in Bible verses and is still a spiritual hero among many Baptists. David Hyles, Jack’s son, was also a well-respected pastor in the church who had affairs with at least 19 women and is a suspect in an unsolved murder. Yet, to the best of my knowledge to date, David Hyles is still invited to speak at Baptist conferences/churches and receives robust ovations. Jack Hyles remained in the pulpit until his death in 2001 and was succeeded by his son in law Jack Schaap who is presently in prison for statutory rape. Jack Hyles is notorious for his quip, “If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” and is still revered among many Baptists as the best preacher since the apostle Paul.

The article continues with its list of things abuse victims need from “the church.” But the thesis of this article is that the church is not only unable to supply these things, but becomes a co-abuser. In contrast, the original Christian model for fellowship is well able to help and more likely to do just that.

First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”

The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.

Uh, ok, not sure how to add to this. It’s a stunning admission while calling on the same church to do something about the problem it has created. We don’t need “preachers” to do anything. Preachers have been preaching long and hard for thousands of years and the results are evident. We need God’s people to stand up and get back to the first works of home fellowship. The laity waiting on the experts is long traveled and worthless. More of what is beginning to happen needs to happen more and more. Ordinary Spirit-filled Christians are meeting together around the word and fellowship, and seeking God’s face in this whole matter about how church is traditionally practiced. And the fact that the church is grounded in a false gospel is something I addressed in another article posted today and Friday.

Without addressing every single point in the article other than those mentioned already, let me move on to this one:

Someone to care for their needs

Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.

According to the first-century model, a home fellowship network would be several small groups meeting in several homes in the same geographical area. And because of freedom from massive infrastructure cost and “tithing” versus New Testament giving based on NEED only funds and resources to help the abused would be ample. In fact, I could share an example from our very own home fellowship. We have a young lady living with us, and other people connected to our fellowship contribute financially to her needs. She is fully supported independently from anybody who might be a problem in her life. And when people live with you, trust me, you know the facts and you do a lot of listening. She will be completely self-reliant this month after living with us for about two years.

In regard to a different kind of abuse, a home fellowship network that I know of in Africa operates in the following way: the network assimilates street orphans from Nairobi into their fellowships. There is a leader from the network, equipped with the latest information about funds and availability that goes into Nairobi searching for orphans, and upon finding some, brings them back to the fellowship network where they will have a home, food, protection, and education. Let’s say that our home fellowships are connected with theirs; many of these children could be brought stateside and assimilated into fellowship here as well.

In addition to being freed from the bondage of infrastructure expense, the authority of the church’s clergy is suffocating. Clergy, more times than not, are control freaks obsessed with keeping the herd calm. They are spiritual cowboys constantly concerned with the herd being spooked. This speaks to the rest of the concerns in the post being considered here. More times than not, the laity are kept in the dark concerning the needs of those abused. There is a wall of confidentiality between the church’s “trained” counselors and the parishioners who fund the whole mess. When red flags are raised in regard to how certain situations are handled, we are told that “we should trust the elders who are closest to the situation and know all of the details.” This continually proves to be a recipe for disaster, and elders are granted NO such authority via the Scriptures.

Small groups in private homes offer intimate support and confidentiality from the other home fellowships. It is a perfect balance of intimate care and financial support if needed. All of the different gifts and experiences of Christ’s body are brought to bear on the situation.

Also, we must remember that the home fellowship movement is comprised of people from all walks of life: policemen, mental health professionals, etc., etc. These people or their areas of expertise are not separated from any situation by the professional clergy for inappropriate reasons.

paul

Love Your Local Institutional Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 18, 2016

 

Originally published October 29, 2014

2016 promo 4One of the advantages of having Calvinist friends on my Facebook friend list is that little gems like this one appear in my news feed from time to time. The article is entitled “Do You Love the Church Like Jesus Does?”*  It was written by a young man named Mark Perry, former Associate Pastor of Westerville Bible Church in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, and now a missionary candidate to Chile.  Mr. Perry could be considered to be of the “young, restless, and reformed” variety.

The opening caption of the article asks the question, is it possible to love Jesus and not love His church? Obviously, a question such as this establishes the premise that such a thing is not possible.  We are to assume that these two things are not compatible.  If you don’t love the church then you must not love Jesus.  The purpose of the article seeks to first define the “church” and then make the argument of why and how we are to love it.  I have reproduced the body of the article in this post so that I can offer a review of Mr. Perry’s arguments (in italics) and insert my comments to relevant sections that I want to point out to you.

Do You Love the Church Like Jesus Does?

What is the church?

We use the word “church” in many different ways. How can we pinpoint what that means? In Ephesians we are told that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). We can identify the church by asking for which “church” Jesus died.

The church is not the building in which believers assemble. We often use the word church to refer to the building: “What a lovely church!” or “The church could use a new coat of paint.” But surely this is not the church for which Jesus died. In fact, New Testament congregations met in members’ homes (e.g., Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philemon 1:2). In many parts of the world today, our brothers and sisters in Christ meet in homes, parks, or public locations. It is not necessary to own property or have a physical building dedicated to the regular assembling of Jesus’ body.

So far so good. All very well stated. These are all things that Paul and I have both stated on regular occasions. I would agree with Mr. Perry on this point.  Notice how he establishes that the church is not a building.  In fact, he goes to some length to establish what the church is not, thereby framing his argument to follow. Reading on:

The church is not the meetings or ministry programming. Another way we use the word church is to refer to a worship service or ministry program: “Church was great this morning; I really enjoyed the sermon.” “My church has so many ministry opportunities available.” Many people see the church as the sum of services or ministries offered: children’s ministries, fellowship opportunities, teaching and preaching, or other benefits offered to members or adherents. But did Jesus die to secure singles’ ministries, Vacation Bible School, and youth groups? Did Jesus love a certain style of music or preaching so much that he left heaven to give his life? Every generation of believers since the book of Acts has had to work out how to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples in their culture.

Ok, here he starts to drift a little. First of all, we don’t have to “work out” how to obey Jesus’ commands.  His commands are clear.  We either do them or we don’t.  The way we make disciples or “learners” is by teaching them exactly what Jesus said to do.  The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom is not culture-specific.  It is the same for all men everywhere.  We don’t have to “figure it out.”

The other thing I notice in this statement is the implication that evangelism takes place within the confines of the institutional gathering or its ministries. This is patently false.  Evangelism is an individual mandate.  We don’t bring the unsaved to the church through the means of some “program” or “ministry” in order to get them saved.  We as individuals go out to them and preach the gospel to them. When they hear and believe and become saved, we then invite them to fellowship with the assembly for the purpose of edification.

Moving on…

The church is the regular assembly of believers in Jesus. We often say, “The church is the people”

This is correct. Yay! The reason we often say it is because it’s true.

and we are right—almost.

Wait…Huh?  What do you mean “almost?”

On one hand, the universal church includes all believers in Jesus from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture. At the moment of Jesus’ return in the air, the universal church will be assembled for the first time: “those who have fallen asleep” and “we who are alive, who are left” (1 Thess 4:14, 17). But until that time, the church exists on earth in localized assemblies of believers who meet regularly for prayer, Scripture reading, teaching of apostolic doctrine, and fellowship (Acts 2:42). The Greek word translated “church” (ἐκκλησία) means assembly or gathering and sometimes in the New Testament it even refers to groups of unbelievers (e.g., Acts 19:32, 39, 41).

Ok, while I don’t see the NT making any distinction between “universal church” and “local church”, nevertheless his other points here are spot on. And he would have been better served stopping right there, but he didn’t. Read on…

The church is the church when it is assembled.

WHAT? Read that again. He said, “The church is the church when it is assembled”? The logical inverse of that statement would necessarily follow that the church is not the church when it is not assembled. But he just said the word “church” is the word “ekklesia” which means “assembly.” The reality of his statement indicates that the church does not exist when it is not assembled. That would mean the church only has relevance when it is assembled.

At the beginning this author made points about what a church is not. It is not a building, it is not a program.  But please notice his emphasis is still on some group entity over the individual.  In Reformed and Protestant orthodoxy, there is no relevance or meaning or existence outside of the group! To them, our relevance as believers only matters within the church. So, when we are not assembled, we don’t matter.

It is those believers who regularly gather in Jesus’ name. Therefore, the church that Jesus loves and for whom he died is the gathering of believers. These local assemblies or gatherings of believers are the only church we can know this side of heaven.

I would dare to ask Mr. Perry that if the church is the Body, and we are individual members of that Body, each with our own function, then do we cease to be a part of that Body when we are not assembled? Are we only part of the Body when we meet on Sundays (or Wednesday, or Saturday, or any other required meeting time/place)? I contend that our relevance as believers extends far beyond that which we do when we gather for fellowship.  And our not being assembled together in fellowship at any given time does not preclude our identity as a member of the Body of Christ.  He continues:

What does it mean to love the church?

We are commanded to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2). In other words, we are to love the church just as Jesus does. The command to love Jesus’ church is the same as the oft-repeated New Testament command to “love one another” (e.g., Rom 12:10; 13:8; 1 Thess 3:12; 4:9; 2 Thess 1:3; 1 Pet 1:22; 4:8; 1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 1:5). So we love Jesus’ church when we love the brothers and sisters in our local assembly.

What about other brothers and sisters in other assemblies around the world who are not part of our cult group assembly, who don’t necessarily share all the same beliefs in matters of practice? Are they not a part of the body because they don’t assemble with us?  Is our church somehow better/superior to their church because we don’t “worship” the same way they do, because we “do church” the “right way”?  Are they any less part of the body of Christ?  Are they part of the assembly because they are born-again believers in Christ or instead because they regularly assemble at our “church”?

And this is where it gets difficult. We may love our church’s beautiful building, we may be enraptured by our favorite preacher’s sermon series, or we may appreciate the array of ministries and opportunities our church offers, but loving these difficult, obnoxious, unkind, and sinful people is a different matter entirely! Jesus’ love for us is our example to love his church. What about the sinful people in my church? Jesus loved me while I was a sinner (Rom 5:6–8). What about the cantankerous or antagonistic people in my church? Jesus loved me while I was his enemy (Rom 5:10). What about the people who have weak consciences or unreasonable standards in my church? Jesus served others, not himself (Rom 15:3; Mark 10:45).

Mr. Perry must not think very much of the members in his church. Look at what he calls them: “difficult, obnoxious, unkind, and sinful people… cantankerous or antagonistic… people who have weak consciences or unreasonable standards”. Wow, I sure want to be a part of that church now that I know what the pastoral staff thinks of me!  The view of the continued total depravity of the saints is clearly evident in this paragraph. The Bible does not call believers “sinners”.  That is what we were in the past. Let us not forget the rest of 1 Corinthians 6:11, “…but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God…”  Believers are righteous, Mr. Perry, because we have the righteousness of God the Father.  We have His seed in us that cannot sin! (1 John 3:9)

As I continue to read these last points, the emphasis of the church as an institution (…our church’s beautiful building…preacher’s sermon series…array of ministries and opportunities…) vs. a body of individuals is apparent. The “church” is referred to in terms that place the emphasis on this “entity” that is something other than the body of Christ. It is very subtle, but the implications are there.

How can we love the church?

How then can we “walk in love” and serve one another through love (Gal 5:13)? Here are four practical ways.

Meet regularly with Jesus’ church. Don’t turn your back on Jesus’ church because you don’t like the facilities or prefer a different ministry emphasis. Don’t abandon Jesus’ church for something that is not the church. Jesus has promised his presence with his church until the end of the age (Matt 28:20). Jesus meets with his church—do you?

There is a veiled threat in this point regarding abandoning the church. What happens to the one who abandons the church?  What is the “something that is not the church”?  Do you not see the equivocation here that if you are not part of the church then you are not a part of the Body, ergo, you are not saved?  Whether or not it is stated plainly, reformed orthodoxy functions under the belief that salvation is found within the institution.

Pray for Jesus’ church. If you see problems [sic] When you see problems in your church, pray for your church.

Yes, by all means, we ought to pray for each others’ needs as we fellowship together. We ought to pray that our fellowship time is efficacious.  We ought to pray that we would be on our guard for wolves who would do violence to the flock, and that we would be discerning regarding false teaching.  But that is not what this author has in mind.  His concern here is with the actual institution itself.  Consider report after report of spiritual abuse and scandals that have rocked the religious word in the last few years.  But yet it is these same institutions that must be preserved for the “cause of Christ”, regardless of the problems that exist.  Look at this next paragraph:

Are you concerned about your church? Remember Jesus loves his church—he died for her—and he cares for your church more than you ever could (Rev 1:12, 20). We pray with confidence when we pray according to God’s will (1 John 5:14), and we know what God’s will is for the church—that she becomes like Jesus! This is what God is at work doing (Phil 1:6; 2:13). Pray the God-breathed prayers of the New Testament for your church (e.g., Eph 3:14–21; Phil 1:9–11; Rom 15:5–6; 1 Thess 5:23–24). Jesus prayed for his church (John 17:20–26) —do you?

Notice the collectivist emphasis in terms. The individuals are expendable.  The “church” must become like Jesus, not individuals.  We must pray for God’s will for the “church”, not the individuals.  Jesus died for the “church”, not the individuals.  Jesus prayed for the “church”, not the individuals.  But consider that last reference in John 17 carefully.  When Jesus prayed that night in the garden, he wasn’t praying for a church, he was praying for you and me!  He was praying for the PEOPLE, the individuals that comprised His Body.

Follow the spiritual leaders Jesus has placed over his church. If you don’t like or don’t “click with” your church leadership, you might be tempted to turn your back on Jesus’ church. In fact, disagreement with the teaching or ministry direction of our leaders is a very spiritual-sounding reason for abandoning the group of brothers and sisters to whom we have committed ourselves

It’s more than just “spiritual-sounding”, it is commanded by Scripture! Come out from among them and be ye separate. Earnestly contend for the faith.  Mark and avoid those who cause divisions because of contrary doctrine.  But somehow this is abandonment?

 But if Jesus was going to show us something new from his Word or to correct a misunderstanding we had about the Bible, how would he do that? Wouldn’t he use the leaders and teachers he has given to his church for that very purpose (Eph 4:11–14)? It seems the Chief Shepherd would use the shepherds he has set up over his church (1 Pet 5:4–5) to “keep watch over your soul” (Heb 13:17). Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, entrusted the church for which he died to your elders (Heb 13:20–21; Acts 20:28)—do you follow them?

First of all, there is nothing “new” in the Bible. We’ve had it for 2000 years or more.  Are leaders and teachers giving us new revelation?  Do they have some special dispensation or gifting that enables them to speak for God?  Has God divinely appointed them (predetermination) to be in a place of authority, and so we must obey them?  No because pastors and teachers are gifts given for the purpose of equipping and edifying the assembly, not for the purpose of authority or speaking for God. There is no mediator between God and man other than Jesus. We don’t need men to interpret God’s word for us.  Shepherds guard and protect, they don’t rule. They see to the needs of the flock so that each believer can be effective in his own ministry. They don’t dictate to the flock how to think and act.

Put the spiritual needs of Jesus’ church above your own preferences. Often our opinions about how the building should be decorated or the way in which the meetings or programs should be set up are more important to us than the spiritual needs of our brothers and sisters.

Mr. Perry keeps bringing up these references to the building and ministries after he made it a point early on to emphasize that the church is not either of these. Why do these thoughts constantly permeate our thinking? Because it’s been ingrained into our mindset. This beast has created all of its own problems.  Matters of preference or décor or carpet color or music choice or programs or how much to tithe all become moot when we simply get back to a Biblical model of fellowship.

If anyone could have lobbied for his own interests instead of giving himself for his church, it was Jesus (Phil 2:3–8). Jesus gave up his rights and reputation for his church—do you?

This is obviously a reference to Philippians 2:7, “But made himself of no reputation…”, but this same passage also states that Jesus gave up nothing, but instead constantly affirmed His equality with the Father.

Next Lord’s Day, as you gather in Jesus’ name with that group of believers you call your brothers and sisters in Christ, look around and ask yourself this question: “Do I love this church like Jesus does?”

Thankfully, that is the end of the article, because there is much more I could add, but I’d be writing forever. The bottom line here is that consistently the emphasis in the NT regarding the church is the assembly, or the individual members of the Body. We are to love the people, not this thing they call the “church”. Reformed and Protestant orthodoxy equivocate whenever it speaks of “church”, and that is by design. Their double-speak confuses and obfuscates the real matter- their belief of salvation being tied to the institution, and not the finished work of Christ.  When you love the people you are loving the church because we are all members of it every moment, not just when we gather for fellowship. We are individual members of a Body, and no man ever hated his own body.  We have got to be clear what we are talking about when we use the words we use!

Andy
* The link to the cited article is no longer available

The Protestant Twisting of 1John, Part 4 – A Clarification: Gospel and Obedience

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 16, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published April 20, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 4 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.

Initially, I wanted to just address 1John 1:9 in a thorough way to debunk this whole Protestant idea that we keep ourselves saved by returning to the same gospel that saved us. And, the way we reutilize the same gospel that saved us is a continued repentance for “present sin.” It’s this whole idea that Jesus died for our past sins, but we must ask forgiveness for known present sin in order to keep ourselves saved. When we do that, it’s a reapplication of Jesus’ death for present sin. Hence, 1John 1:9.

But it doesn’t stop there in Protestant soteriology. They then concern themselves with the question of true righteousness.  If our sins are forgiven, that keeps us out of hell, but it doesn’t make us truly righteous. What to do? So here is what they came up with: Jesus came to die for our forgiveness, past and present IF we return to the same gospel that saved us by faith alone, but He also came to keep the law perfectly so that His perfect obedience could be imputed to “Christian” life. The Reformed call this “double imputation.”

And it turns the true biblical gospel completely upside down. First, it makes the law the standard for justification. There is no law in justification, we are justified APART from the law. Why would Christ obey the law for us when justification is apart from the law? Then what is the standard for righteousness?  NOT the law, but rather God’s righteousness. What’s that? For one, and primarily, it’s the new birth. For us, the standard of righteousness is being a child of God. Being the offspring of God is what makes us righteous. Kinship, not law.

Secondly, we are not justified by the law, no matter who keeps it—who keeps it is not the point, the law itself is the point, because there is no law that can give life. Only the new birth gives life (Galatians 3:21).

Thirdly, double imputation is obviously a covering for sin with the righteousness of Christ and not an ENDING of sin. Our sins are not “taken away” they are only covered. “Christianity” is about living a life of faith only to maintain a covering for sin. Therefore, we are not the ones really obeying, and therefore, we are not the ones performing love either.

And boy does this notion land us right where we are at in 1John. I have invested so much in the untwisting of 1John 1:9 in this series, that I thought, “I might as well finish the book out and make it our 1John commentary.” And so it is.

This is our theses: the new birth creates us anew into people who love the truth, and therefore practice oblove. That’s a new word that I made up. What is the definition of oblove? It’s the combination of the words “love” and “obedience.” Biblically, you cannot separate these two words, they are synonymous.  The law is the Bible, and it is a book of condemnation to the unsaved and a beloved love manual for those born again. This is also why our sins are not covered, they are taken away (1John 3:5). Christ came to take away sin, not cover it.

You know, many go to church and sing the hymns, and many listen to Christian radio and raise their hands in praise while stopped at red lights, but a lot of that good Protestant music is just really bad theology that imperils the soul and stops far short of inciting the curiosity of the unsaved. One example is a beautiful song by Steve Camp titled, “He Covers Me.” But again, the premise of the song is that our sins are covered and not ended.

You know, there is a quiet revolution going on in Christianity. Christian husbands are beginning to stand up and assume their rightful role as spiritual leaders. This necessarily means leaving the institutional church which deliberately seeks to emasculate the men among us. One thing that I hear back is that fathers are beginning to stand silent and not sing traditional songs that are deviations from the truth. Good for them. I even hear back that their children ask, “Daddy, why aren’t you singing?” And they tell them why. Undoubtedly, children and wives will get way more out of these types of examples rather than 365 different versions of the same gospel that saved us.

“Why is it that all we ever hear about in the church is the gospel?” Because we have to keep returning to the same gospel that saved us to keep ourselves saved, and by the way, the only place that this continued atonement is valid is in the institutional church. Sure, Protestants will deny salvation by church membership; they will rather become indignant and state that salvation is only found in the gospel. However, the fact remains that they also believe that authority to preach the gospel is vested in the institutional church.

If our sins are only covered, the focus of the Christian life is to keep ourselves covered, not obedience because now obedience is defined by law-keeping. We have been trained mentally to think of obedience as something demanded by the law. This makes the law a co-life-giver with God. At least in one regard, the idea of one God connects with this idea. There is only one life-giver (Galatians 3:10-21).

I strongly suspect that when the Bible talks about God being one, it in no way includes the context of the Trinity. It’s interesting to note that in context of Galatians 3:10-21, the point is that the law is not a coequal with God—there is only one God.

1John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

The law is not the standard for justification; it is the standard for our love, obedience, and submission. If there is a standard for justification at all, it would simply be defined by the new birth. We are justified by virtue of being in God’s family. The first man was a created being. God did not decide to save man by restoring a covenant of works, or restoring man’s image created in the likeness of God, or to restore paradise lost. He decided to save man by making him His literal family. The gospel isn’t about restoring things; it’s about making all things new. This defines you as pure, albeit in mortality. Nevertheless, being born of God in mortality results in the inevitable morphing into more and more purity:

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Let’s ask an interpretive question here. What did Jesus mean when He told John the Baptist that His baptism by John would fulfill all righteousness? I think it fulfilled all righteousness by representing the literal new birth, or Spirit baptism. Though we still reside in mortal bodies, the decision to be saved is a decision to follow Christ in baptism, or a decision to be born again. That’s the gospel. That’s what the gospel is.

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  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.

The more you study the apostle John, the more you will see the apostle Paul. Romans 6 is key here. The perfection of the law is not the standard for righteousness, passing from life to death is the standard. Though we still sin, we are dead to sin. Being deemed righteous in our present state is defined by a reversal of slavery leading to a new direction in life. Romans 6 explains, as we shall see, 1John 3. The literal new birth, in essence reverses slavery (Romans 6:20). This also debunks the whole Reformed total depravity song and dance. Before the baptism of the Spirit that comes by believing on Christ, the unregenerate are free to do good, but enslaved to the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

Being under the curse of the law is both a forensic statement and a state of being. It is true, while under law, a perfect keeping of the law is demanded. But this is key: when it gets right down to it, unbelievers are indifferent to the Bible or the law of God. And remember, the law and the Bible are the same thing. Man is capable of doing good, and in fact does do good, but because he/she has no love for God’s truth, and in fact are indifferent to it, life decisions lead to many-faceted forms of death, and ultimately, eternal death. Unbelievers that live according to conscience will suffer a lesser punishment in this life and the life to come.

Believers can in fact make life and death decisions, but are inclined towards obeying the law because of the new birth. Clearly, the Bible states that there is a reversal of slavery. The believer is enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to sin. But according to Paul, a believer can stupidly enslave themselves to certain sins by obeying the desire that the sin produces. The believer is no longer enslaved to sin, but can be ignorant of this fact. And keep in mind, Protestantism is predicated on the idea that we are still enslaved to sin as believers which goes part and parcel with still being under the law and law continuing to be the standard for justification.

Listen, here is why the home fellowship movement is going to eventually take off: the alternative is Protestantism which defines the believer according to how the Bible defines an unbeliever. Eventually, people are going to figure out that they have been proudly proclaiming themselves as unregenerate in the name of Christ.

Lastly, this is defined by the fact that believers have the freedom to present their bodies as living sacrifices, or in other words, present their members for holy purposes that please God. The body is not inherently evil because it is part of the material world. Whether saved or unsaved, the body can be used for good purposes. However, in the case of an unbeliever, good behavior doesn’t lead to life more abundantly, it just leads to lesser punishment and a more bearable eternal state. For the unbeliever, good behavior merely leads to less death. For the believer, obedient love leads to more life.

Now with all of this in mind, let’s read further in 1John Chapter 3:

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

John wrote what he wrote in 1John 3 because of what Paul wrote in Romans 6—it’s saying the same thing. Obeying the law isn’t the issue, a “commitment” to obey the law isn’t the issue, the reality of the new birth is the issue.

1Corinthians 15:1- Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3For 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.

This is, as Paul called it, the gospel of “first importance” or literally “the gospel of first order of importance.” There is way more behind this than a mental ascent to the facts of the gospel. You have to believe that this first happened to Christ in order to believe that it really happened to you spiritually. Repentance is a change of mind in regard to many things concerning your life and the life of Christ.

By the way, there was an evangelical movement for a while that emphasized the new birth. It peaked in the 70’s and was considered to be the most egregious of all false gospels. The Australian Forum, the think tank that gave birth to the present-day return to authentic Reformed soteriology, actually published an article titled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.”

John continues in chapter 3 to explain one of the characteristics of being born again, love. But let me insert this, and this is VERY important: the characteristics of the new birth are framed in what the Bible refers to as “abiding.” If God’s seed “abides in” us (1John 3:9), other things also abide in us: the fact that we abide in Him also; the truth abides in us; we know the truth; we love the truth; we love fellow Christians; we do not practice sin, but rather practice righteousness as a life direction and pattern; we love God’s law; we submit to need; we obey; we seek to please God; we have a hunger for learning more of God’s word, and many more can be listed.

Let’s read more of John 3 with this in mind:

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

See, the order in which John discusses these things is in no wise disconnected. We need to start thinking about “obedience” in reference to love and the new birth. Really, the Christian life is about love. But listen, any love that flows from you starts with a love for truth. Also, please take note of a more biblical definition of love: love is a submission to need—that’s love. When the Scriptures tell women to submit to their husbands, that’s just another way of telling wives to love their husbands. When the Bible tells men to love their wives, it’s simply telling men to submit to their needs. Look at 1John 3:17 again. How does benevolence get parachuted into that body of text out of nowhere?  John goes from discussing murder to meeting financial need; it seems like he is all over the map, but not really.

Lastly, working out the new birth with love leads to assurance.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

Assurance of salvation comes through working out our new birth in fear and trembling. Assurance of salvation is grounded in the ending of the law because the old us died with Christ resulting in no condemnation, while our new relationship to the law leads us in love and life. Now listen, even a casual student of the Bible can begin to hang Bible verses all over this framework.

Next week, we will build on this as we go into chapter 4—let’s go to the phones.

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.

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