Paul's Passing Thoughts

Believing Equals Baptizing Yourself into Christ?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 28, 2015

Christianity is a laity movement. It doesn’t exclude formal academia and higher learning; it simply recognizes that higher religious education is fraught with collectivist presuppositions and spiritual caste. The apostle Paul described what the assembly of Christ is mostly comprised of:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

Bottom line: aristocracy invariably glorifies God with a wink and a nod. Throughout history an emphasis on academia has always led to Gnostic-like movements invading the church, and for this reason, academia was suspect in the first and second-century assemblies. And as a result, those of the academic class were rarely allowed to be elders. The apostles often rebuked the saints for submitting to the intimidation of nobility and academic prowess.

When Christians investigate the Bible for themselves, they find stunning contradictions between the intimidating auras of religious academia and what the Bible plainly states. As a rule of life, discernment should never be in neutral.

This ministry has documented a plethora of teachings coming from one of the most trusted academiacs in all of evangelicalism, John MacArthur Jr. This post just adds another caveat to the heap. However, this isn’t necessarily a targeted criticism of MacArthur per se, but my criticisms concerning MacArthur usually take place in regard to his teachings that reflect the Reformed tradition in general.

And his assessment of John 3:8 falls into that category. The motif using John 3:8 as a proof text usually looks something like this:

Since salvation is strictly the result of God’s choosing, the Spirit travels about the earth giving spiritual birth to whosoever God chooses. No one can assess where the Spirit came from or is going—only the results of His work can be seen, and we take no part in it.

In the third session of the 2008 T4G conference, MacArthur stated the following:

And what Jesus doesn’t say is pray this prayer. What Jesus doesn’t say is here are the four steps, five steps, six steps or whatever. What Jesus says in verse 8 is just absolutely shocking to the free will world. “The wind blows where it wishes. You hear the sound of it. You don’t know where it comes from and where it’s going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” What in the world kind of an answer is that? Our Lord is saying it’s not up to you. It’s up to the Holy Spirit, and you have no control over where and when the Spirit moves. No control. This is a divine work. It has to be a divine work. Flesh just produces flesh. Dead people can’t give themselves life. Spirit gives life to whom he will, and you can see when it happens, but you can’t make it happen. It’s the Spirit’s work.

Notice that the premise for MacArthur’s conclusion is threefold: control, what the Spirit does, and the scope of His salvific work. Grammatically, the text is not saying that at all. The word “control” is nowhere in the text, but what is being spoken of is knowledge of the wind, NOT the control of it. Secondly, the wind comparison is not a comparison to the Spirit’s work, but describes the believer:

So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The text is clearly not talking about what the Spirit does, but “so it is” with those born of the Spirit. And what of them? They have no knowledge of where the new birth will take them. They are dying with Christ to end the old self and the life of the old self, and where their new life is going as a new creature is not known. In other words, it’s a matter of complete trust and unpredictability. Christ continually called on people to drop everything in their life right where it was, and follow Him. Same kind of idea.

Furthermore, MacArthur, like all of the Reformed, assumes the scope of the Spirit’s salvific work includes believing, but again, the text does not state that anywhere. The text specifically states that the Spirit baptizes the believer into Christ (“born of the Spirit”) which is the death of the old self and resurrection of the new. The new resurrected life of the believer, like the wind, is completely unpredictable and predicated on trust. This would have been particularly relevant to someone like Nicodemus who was a big man on campus in Israel, and would have been putting his aristocratic status in jeopardy by following Christ.

In fact, Christ emphasized belief in the following verses. You don’t need to be born again in order to believe, you need to believe in the new birth and choose it in order to receive it. Faith comes first after hearing the word of God, then choosing the new birth results in the new birth which indeed we have no control over, but that doesn’t mean we are unable to choose it.

I didn’t understand all of this when I became a Christian, but here is what happened. Through the preaching of the word by a guy named Mark Cline, I came to a belief in the facts about the gospel. But, I didn’t make a decision right away. Why? I didn’t want to give up the decadent life I was living. Intuitively, I knew a decision for Christ meant a new life. I didn’t want a new life, I liked the one I had although I was completely miserable. I was willing to risk an eternity in hell in order to hang on to the lusts I had at the time. When I finally prayed that God would save me, I knew it meant a new life—I just didn’t understand all of the theology. Prior to that, a guy begged me to “Just say the prayer” because believing alone saves. I declined because I knew salvation meant a new life, a life I did not want at the time.

Why would God give eternal life and then call on people to choose it? Why not give the new birth and then inform people that they have been born again? If people have no choice in the matter, why would God call on them to be persuaded? MacArthur, like all of the Reformed, makes belief synonymous with the ability to baptize one’s self into Christ. Supposedly, if you can choose, you also have the power to baptize into Christ. This is a huge leap in logic.


Basic Principles of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 10, 2015

1. Sin and weakness are not the emphasis, love is. 1Peter 3:8

2. No fear in regard to justification or condemnation; fear of consequences in sanctification. James 5:9, Philippians 2:12,13, 1John 4:16-19

3. We are truly righteous and good. 1John 3:9, Romans 15:14

4. Rewards for obedience in this present life. Philippians 4:9

5. Justification is a gift, we earn rewards in sanctification. Hebrews 6:10

6. Obedience is love. John 14:15

7. The Holy Spirit is our HELPER, not one who obeys for us. John 14:16

8. Sanctification is NOT a rest. Galatians 5:7, Hebrews 4:9-11

9. Our soul is saved, we await the redemption of the body. Romans 7:24 (“wretched” means: one who is persevering in affliction, NOT personal wickedness). Also Romans 8:23

10. Prayers can be hindered by disobedience. 1Peter 3:7

11. Strive for a clear conscience. Acts 24:16

12. You become enslaved to what you obey. Romans 6:16

13. Sanctification is wisdom for controlling your body. 1Thessalonians 4:3

14. We are resurrected to a reward, not a judgment. Luke 14:14

15. We use the body for Holy purposes: Romans 12:1

16. We desire what we invest in. Matthew 6:21

17. Scripture application to life leads to a life built upon a rock. Matthew 7:24-27

18. Those who do good love life. 1Peter 3:10-12, Psalms 34:12-16

19. The power is in the doing. James 1:25

20. Learning to hate evil and love good. Romans 12:9

21. Practice of truth leads to more understanding. John 17:17, Hebrews 5:14

22. Adding biblical truth to our lives bolsters a feeling of assurance. 2Peter 1:10

23. Our goal is a rich entry. 2Peter 1:11

24. Sin uses desire to tempt us. We must define sinful desires versus godly desires. James 1: 14

25. Teachers are a help, but not efficacious to individual learning. 1John 2:27

26. There is only one judge that we are individually accountable to. Romans 14:12

27. Put off the old habits of the dead you, learn the ways of the new man, and apply them to life. Ephesians 4: 20-24

28. Our practice is “true” righteousness—it is really us doing it. We are “truly” righteous beings. Ephesians 4:24

29. Faith works through love in sanctification. Our faith doesn’t work for salvation of the soul, it works for love. Galatians 5:6

30. Our ultimate goal is the new heavens and new earth. This is the full consummation of The Promise. 2Peter 3:13

31. All three Trinity members help us in our sanctification. Philippians 2:12,13, John 14:16

32. Our sanctification is powered by the same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the grave. Ephesians 1:18-20

33. Some things are a mystery, but we are individually responsible to learn and obey the majority of Scripture. Deuteronomy 29:29.

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