Paul's Passing Thoughts

It Takes an Atheist to Ask the Right Question: What is the Spirit’s Two Uses of the Law?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 8, 2015

ppt-jpeg4This post was prompted by a challenge I received from Facebook dialogue. I can’t say for sure that the person is actually an atheist, but he seems to be at least anti-Christian. At any rate, his question, though a question in the form of a challenge, is the kind of questions that I wish Christians would ask.

One of the biggest problems we have in Christianity today is the assumption that the Reformers did us all a big favor by organizing the Bible into chapters and verses. It is stunning to realize that Christians read the Scriptures without such divisions until the 14th century. Unfortunately, such indexing enables people to skip context entirely and lay claim to orthodoxy based on a pile of single verses. Church historian John Immel has coined this “Scripture stacking.”

Often, the challenge of contesting chapter/verse indexing is daunting. While one verse can seem to plainly state an orthodox principle, it may take an immense exegesis to properly explain a given verse in context. This is why many isolated verses in the Bible seem to clearly contradict other isolated verses; chapter/verse indexing eliminated an emphasis on context. Without verse indexing, context is the emphasis by default, not isolated verses.

But what is most disturbing follows: Christians never ask leaders to reconcile these contradictions which are in fact contradictions when considered as isolated verses only. While the apparent contradictions demand an explanation, very few Christians, including pastors, are asking.  But it is a good thing that atheists are, and I insist that this is why atheism is on the rise; Christians can’t answer the questions.  In fact, they don’t even know what the right questions are.

If one does not understand the Holy Spirit’s two uses of the law, the Bible will appear to be fraught with contradictions. As a longtime Christian who was always respected as a Bible teacher wherever I showed up, the Bible was mostly confusing to me. Deep down, I knew I understood little about the Bible. That all changed in 2011 when I did an independent pondering of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. That’s when I learned from the Bible what the key is to understanding most of it: the Spirit’s two uses of the law, and by law, I mean the Bible.

In context of the Spirit’s two uses of the law, words like judgment, condemnation, law, love, fear, sin, forgiveness, salvation, redemption, grace, sanctification, to name a few, must be qualified by context. In particular, the word “salvation” does not always mean salvation; it may be referring to redemption which is not the same thing depending on the context.

The Spirit’s two uses of the law is where home fellowships part with the institutional church. At issue is a proper assessment of the true gospel. The same Bible that saved us is not the same Bible that sanctifies us, but it is the same Bible. In context, that is NOT a contradiction; pastors and Christians have to get this. I have told many pastors this to their faces (and will continue to do so), until you understand the Spirit’s two uses of the law, get out of the ministry because you are wholly unfit and are leading your people in bondage under the law. Why is the church a train wreck? Simple: a single perspective on law. Moreover, single verse indexing makes the selling of this single perspective possible.

But let us now get to the question/challenge:

“Love me.” -God.

“Fear me.” -God.
“There is no fear in love.” -God.

Paradoxical contradiction.

Right, those are all verses in the Bible, and when isolated as verses, plain contradictions. Even if Christians where thoughtful enough to ask their pastors to clarify this contradiction, they either wouldn’t know, or the answer would make you grimace. So, here is the biblical answer according to context.

When God commands us to love him, He is speaking in regard to one of the Spirit’s two uses of the law—in regard to sanctification. The Spirit uses the Bible to sanctify the believer (John 17:17). This use of the law only pertains to believers; they are under grace, and IN a loving relationship with God. To love God as a Christian, you learn the Bible and obey it. This also gives more and more life to the believer (Ephesians 6:1-3 among many examples).

This brings us to a linchpin in the conversation: the Bible calls on unbelievers to fear, and Christians to fear, but these are two totally different fears. Let’s speak of the unbeliever’s fear first: this is fear of eternal condemnation. Now we can also include the fact that “sin” in the Bible doesn’t always speak of the same sin. For the unbeliever, sin is entirely different than sin committed by believers. The unbeliever sins against God’s law of sin and death, and this leads to eternal condemnation. The law of sin and death is the other use of the law by the Spirit; he uses it to condemn the world and warn it of the judgment to come (John 16:8). This is the law of sin and death.

This is why Christ died on the cross: to END the law of sin and death FOR those who believe (Romans 10:4). Hence, unbelievers are under law and not under grace (Romans 6:14). But, under grace does not mean that Christians are under no law, they are under the Spirit’s law of life (Romans 7:6 and 8:2). This means believers can use the Bible to please God and love Him and others. Aside from the fact that unbelievers are indifferent to the Bible, all it can do is condemn them. However, for the believer, there is NO fear (that is, fear of condemnation) in love because fear has to do with judgment (1John 4:16-19). Christians are marked by a love for the Bible, but before conversion they were indifferent to it or outright hostile (2Thess 2:10, Psalm 119).

So why should Christians fear? Because their sin is family sin against the Father, and God chastises those He loves (Hebrews 12:6ff., Proverbs 3:12, Revelation 3:19). God takes family sin seriously, therefore, judgment (here meaning chastisement) begins in the household of God (1Peter 4:17). Christians can get a little flippant about love because they are not under law and its condemnation, and God can correct that attitude in ways that gets people’s attention (Acts 5:1-11 1Thess 4:1-6).

A single perspective on these matters denies the new birth. When a believer is born again, the old person who was under the law of sin and death dies with Christ, and is no longer under the law’s condemnation. That person is no longer under that use of the law by the Spirit: to condemn. The same person is also resurrected with Christ by the Spirit and is now under grace and the Spirit’s law of life. There is now NO condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). In fact, where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 3:19, 4:15, 5:13, 7:8). The Christian can now aggressively love without fear of condemnation.

Christian misunderstanding of all of this manifests itself when one protests the idea that Christians are yet “sinners saved by grace.” When you protest, they ask what they think is a rhetorical question: “Did you sin today?” Note the single perspective on law and sin which the Bible would define as, under law; the very definition of a lost person. Furthermore, those who understand the Spirit’s two uses of the law are accused of “perfectionism” as I was by a group of pastors recently. It is indicative of steroidal Bible illiteracy. Nevertheless,

“Love me.” -God…as your Father and under the Spirit’s law of life.

“Fear me.” -God…in regard to eternal condemnation as an unbeliever, or chastisement in regard to being my child.
“There is no fear in love.” -God…for those in my Son who ended the law’s condemnation.

Paradoxical contradiction…nope…not at all.

In the final analysis, the challenge posed by the anti-Christian is commendable relative to the dumbed-down Christianity of our day. If only Christians were thoughtful towards the Scriptures to the degree where these kinds of questions would be manifest. Many should take this question posed by said person to their pastor for analysis.

Good luck with that.

paul

The Three Major Approaches to Change Among Evangelicals According to How Romans 8:2 is Interpreted.

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 22, 2015

ppt-jpeg4For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Key to our discussion is how one interprets the word “law.” In the first model of change, “law” is a realm…like, “law of gravity.” I once heard the well-known evangelical Paul David Tripp say the following about Christians: we can’t overcome sin anymore than we can overcome hitting the ground by jumping out of a second story window (paraphrase). Now, Tripp said this at a major Southern Baptist seminary chapel session to the echoes of many “amen”s. This is by no means fringe stuff; in fact, the first model here is the most common.

Before we go further, let me emphasize the gravity of this issue, pun intended. Please, if you forget everything else, don’t forget this: a person’s view of Christian change is indicative of their gospel. That’s what the parable of the talents is about. We tend to think that justification and sanctification are separate, and indeed they are; yet, a person’s view of sanctification reveals their gospel.

So, in this first model, what is the salvation construct or the definition of the new birth? The new birth is defined by a mere ability to “see the kingdom.” The new birth is mere perception. The “Christian” now has the ability to see the Spirit realm and the sin realm. As the so-called saints see both realms in a greater and greater way, they experience an increasing level of joy. This is their definition of new birth which takes place many times over the course of their lives. The more they see their own sin and God’s holiness, the more gratitude they have for their original salvation. Joy, regardless of what is going on in the realms, is the goal. You can see how this looks and sounds spiritual.

But what changes? Only your ability to see, leading to a deeper and deeper joy. Physical change that is experienced is not really being done by you. How does that work? Let me share how this supposedly works according to say, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, et al. The sin realm is passive and the Spirit realm is active. Let’s consider the physical realm, or sin realm. Let’s consider a 2x4x8 piece of lumber. You can see it, feel it, smell it, and if you would like, taste it as well. No problem here, the 2×4 is real. But, it is passive; that 2×4 sits there and does nothing until somebody picks it up. But you say: “Paul, your analogy breaks down here because the material workman is playing an active part; so, he is also active, and not just passive.” Not really. If you have read any of my wife’s stuff on the Puritans, you know that ideas precede all actions, and God is the creator of all ideas. So right, the workman picked up the 2×4, but only because of God’s will—God initiated the act through the action of “the first, or beginning idea (Edwards).”

Now listen, most Christians would write this stuff off as philosophical nonsense, but here is the problem: it’s how they function, and it’s how they talk. Want an example? “I didn’t do it! Jesus did it through me!” See how this works? You did it, but ONLY because it…was/is “God’s will.” Let’s be honest; we talk like this all the time, and it is exactly why “10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work.” But more importantly, it’s their gospel.  Their sanctification paradigm defines their definition of the new birth. Listen to what a Christian lady said to me about two weeks ago: “I want people seeing Jesus, not waist deep in theology.” She may not realize it, but what is she really advocating? What drives a statement like that?

Here is another variation, “yielding.” This is the second model, and we will get to the third one shortly. This proffers the idea that when we are “saved,” we are moved between the Spirit realm and the sin realm. Both put pressure on us, and at any given time we “yield” to one or the other. But again, the only reason we yield is because God gives us the will through the first idea. Let’s move on to the third model.

In this model, the “law” is not a realm, it’s the word of God. Both words in this verse for “law” are the same Greek word (nomos). By the way, the Greek word for “realm” is a totally different word (vasíleio). Let’s also define what we mean by “law.” When we use this word, we are simply speaking about the Bible, or Scripture—the words are used interchangeably. There are many, many examples of this, but one is Galatians 3:21-23. And while we are in Galatians 3, here is a related thought that will not be unpacked in this message, but is relevant and put forth for your pondering pleasure: if Jesus kept the law for us so that we can be justified, Jesus isn’t the only seed, the law is also a seed and a giver of life. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, it can’t give life. We are justified by the new birth, not the law. This is Paul’s EXACT argument in Galatians 3. But what about Matthew 5:17, right? That’s what somebody is going to ask. Well, we aren’t going to unpack that either, but the answer is right here in Romans 8, and you can ponder that on your own time as well.

But here we are in Romans 8:2, faced with the consideration of two laws and what does this mean? There is only one Bible, right? Of course, but here is where I plug in the issue I often hear pastors complain about: passiveness in the church. Most pastors attribute it to “fear.” And what are they afraid of? They are afraid of condemnation because they don’t understand Romans 8:2 and the Spirit’s two uses of the law. They do not know the difference between under law and under grace in Romans 6:14. You see, the first part of Romans 8:2 is the first part of Romans 6:14 and also the second parts respectively.

Of course 10% of the people are doing 90% percent of the work because Jesus is doing the other 90%, and he would be doing 100% of the work if the 10% weren’t confused in a good way about sanctification. You see, Christians don’t work because they are afraid, and they are afraid because they are still under law. They fear that their motives for serving, somewhere deep, deep in their hearts is an attempt to justify themselves, and that would be works salvation. Therefore, by golly, if Jesus doesn’t tell them to do something, and thus signifying that it is actually him doing it, they must “wait on the Lord.” It sounds so pious, no? And of course, you can cite any number of Bible verses that would seem to support that.

And how is that working for us? But let me tell you what it is: it’s antithetical to “faith working through love”(Galatians 5:6). And what’s that? Here it is: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus did not say, “Love me by letting me fulfill the law through you so I can love myself.” I hate to be blunt, but if you didn’t do the love, but rather Jesus loved Himself through you—you didn’t do any love. Though this would seem evident, I direct you to what Paul wrote in Galatians right after 5:6… “You were running well, who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Any questions? If Christians do not understand the Spirit’s two uses of the law, they will not run well, but will rather partake in John Calvin’s Sabbath sanctification rest salvation which we are not going to unpack at this time.

So, what are these two laws? It’s pretty simple: for those under law (unsaved), the Spirit uses the law for one thing and one thing only, to condemn, and if they don’t repent, it will be used to judge them on the day of the white throne judgment. But, for those who give their life to Christ, they die with Christ literally (Romans 6), and are no longer under that law (Romans 7). Because they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they not only die, but are literally resurrected to new creaturehood (Rom 6 also) and are under grace which means they serve the new law of the Spirit for purposes of love only. What is that law? It’s the same Bible, it’s also the “perfect law of liberty.” Why did James call it that? Because here is what you use it for: you use it to set people free to aggressively love with NO fear of condemnation. Loving Christians who understand the new birth understand that no loving act they do can effect their salvation because there is no law to judge them—all obedience is a pure act of love. In fact, the Bible says one act of love fulfills the whole law.

Christians who love aggressively without fear of condemnation show that they understand the true gospel because of what they understand about sanctification: Christ didn’t come to merely cover sin, he came to end it and free his literal brothers and sisters from its judgment… “there is NOW NO condemnation” for those who are in Christ because He came to END the law (Romans 10:4) of condemnation, and free His siblings to serve the law of love which they also love because they are born anew. Here is another nugget for pondering: our flesh, or body, or “members” are/is NOT inherently evil, but rather “weak.” The idea that our flesh is inherently evil is part and parcel with the first two models. This is why we still sin, but it is family sin, not sin that condemns us. For those who really believe and understand the gospel, the only motive is love. There is nothing else left but love.

Set people free to love without fear with the true gospel.

Good Works, Sin, and the Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 7, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology.”

Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved…Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience.”

Truth be known, most professing Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that salvation is a mere legal declaration by God based on a signed contract. According to the contract, we are declared legal by God if we denounce all self worth, declare all of our works and the works of others as “filthy rags,” and submit ourselves to “godly authority.” According to Luther and Calvin, we are in breach of contract if we think we can do a good work. And because of our supposed natural pertinacity to think we have some goodness within us, we can never be sure that we are upholding our end of the bargain. Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology. Of course, this so-called gospel is couched in spiritual sounding terms like “covenant” and “grace” and “justification,” etc.

Most Christians are uncomfortable with what goes on in the institutional church, but what else is there? Protestantism, like all doctrines of tyranny, seeks to dumb down the masses they seek to control. Why? Because one of the major essences of sin is a desire to control. Collectivist doctrines and Sin have always walked closely together, and always will, be driven by low information. Protestants can make no sense of the world at all without paradox as a primary hermeneutic; and in fact, paradox is the primary hermeneutic of orthodoxy. Funny, if not so sad, would be the Protestant assertion that “walk by faith and not by sight” means that it is perfectly alright that life makes no sense at all. After all, we are “totally depraved,” and cannot really know anything except “Christ and Him crucified.”

The Catholic Church has never been shy about stating that information in the hands of the great unwashed is like handing a toddler a loaded gun, but Protestant academics skinned the cat a different way: knowledge about the fact that you can’t know anything is really, really deep, and shame on any saint that does not “study [this fact] to show yourself approved.” And, but of course there is work in the Christian life; as Tullian Tchividjian also said, seeking to see your depravity in a deeper and deeper way IS hard work! Again, because of our “natural” tendency to think we can do something good.

So, a knowledgeable Protestant will interpret the following event this way: a garage mechanic finds 10,000 dollars left in a car, and the former owner was unaware that her dead husband left it there to surprise her. He turned in the money to his manager; seemingly a good deed. But, this auto mechanic is going to hell because he thinks he did a good work. According to Luther and Calvin, believing you can do a good work is “mortal sin,” and the belief that one can fulfill any aspect of the law perfectly. Less knowledgeable Protestants are merely confused by these kinds of events because they, by design, have no real knowledge of biblical law/gospel.

First of all, we must begin with a very, very short philosophy lesson that dumbed-down Protestants don’t think they need. But, fact is, if you don’t have at least a basic knowledge of Gnosticism, you will be unable to understand little going on in the church today, if anything. However, I am going to make this very simple: holiness can dwell with weakness. The present creation, though fallen, is not inherently evil, but rather weak. Weakness does not equal evil. Let me demonstrate. Are the angels weaker than God? Yes, but are they also “holy”? Yes.

Our mortality makes us weak, and Sin abides in our mortal bodies, but Sin does not define mortality. We have the treasure of the new birth in clay (weak) vessels. Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved. In the lost who are not born again, Sin’s foe is the law written upon the heart’s of every individual born into the world. The conscience is the judge that sits over this law and either accuses the individual or excuses them. Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience. If the conscience (judge) has no law, there is no condemnation.

Hence, lack of a developed moral compass via teaching will generally determine the potency of a child’s conscience, and also determine one’s moral compass into adulthood. A judge without a law sits silently. We see this dynamic at work in the aforementioned article cited by the embedded link. Christ often noted that the law written on every person’s heart is a sort of thumbnail version of the more specific law that is the Bible. It is not uncommon for the secular “Golden Rule” to be biblically consistent. This is why the mechanic said he gave back the money; it’s the way he was raised (learned common decency that gives the conscience [judge] a law to work with), and he imagined how he would have felt if the money was his and he lost it (do unto others as you would have others do to you).

So did he do a good work? Yes, of course he did. He obeyed the law written on his heart by God. Will that good work save him? No, of course not. The conscience may temporarily reward him with good feelings, but that will not save him either. This is where we must segue into a little more philosophy. What is your perception of God? Is He an invisible aloof God that disdains everything material? Should we be amazed that He would even acknowledge our existence on any level? Or is He a God that makes Himself known and wishes to see all people saved? Does He actively push all to the precipice of salvation through the very design of His gospel? I think it is the latter, and this is where freewill comes into play: God creates a conscience and a law within us, but it is up to us to develop the conscience through choices. If parents understand this biblical dynamic, they have a clear choice in how they raise their children including the acceptance of contrary philosophies regarding the conscience.

So, God sought to further define what we will call the common heart law with the Old Covenant law, or the law of Moses. There are two laws being dealt with here, and Sin is against both laws. Therefore, the increase of law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn. Sin came into the world as an enemy of good, and its mode of operation is to incite rebellion for purposes of condemnation. Sin seeks the destruction of God’s creation on all counts. More law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn through sinful desires. Sin appeals to the individual through sinful desires, and those desires will prevail according to the strength of one’s developed conscience. Have no doubt: there is a warfare going on inside the unbeliever. Remember, the mechanic acknowledged that keeping the money was a desirable thought, but he knew that would be wrong, was not how he was raised, and wouldn’t be treating others the way he wants to be treated. Moreover, he probably knew his conscience would not allow him to enjoy the booty anyway.

The law is also good. The more law the better. The law is the standard for loving God and others. What if God ended the law’s ability to condemn and only made it useful for love? This would disarm Sin; if sin cannot condemn, it has no power, purpose, or incentive. This is where we talk a little bit about the gospel of Moses. The law can condemn leading to death, and it can love leading to life. As far as those born under the law, they can choose life or death, but ultimately, their end is death. They will suffer lesser death to the degree that they obey their consciences.

This is where the true gospel comes in according to the new birth. The law of Moses not only defines all sin leading to death, but it also defines all love leading to life. Until Christ came, all sin was imputed to the law as a possible indictment. The law held sin “captive” until “faith” came. Of course, the law could still be used to love as well. Christ’s primary gospel role was to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and thereby ending it. Sin or the law? Both. Christ’s death ended the law’s ability to condemn. His death on the cross paves the way for the Spirit to baptize a believer in His death, and resurrect the believer in the same way He resurrected Christ. The new creature born of God cannot be condemned by the law, and therefore, Sin is stripped of its power. That is, IF the believer knows this. Sin can still make an appeal through desires, but the new birth counters that with NEW DESIRES infused by the new birth, specifically, a love for the law that did not previously exist. A believer can still experience the consequences of temporary death from disobedience and the fear thereof, but not the fear of eternal death because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, viz, born into His literal family with God the Father.

So, yes, everyone does good works, but for the unsaved it is lesser death; for the believer it is more life. The unbeliever is still under the condemnation of the law, has an indifference to God’s law, and doesn’t see God’s law as the definition of love. This is why unbelievers often distort the meaning of the word, for one example among myriad, “I love you, but I am divorcing you.” This makes the unbeliever captive to sin. Depending on one’s upbringing, and consequently the strength of their conscience and good habits, their life will be commended by lesser death, but not more life.

In contrast, the born again believer is free from all eternal condemnation, thus stripping Sin of its power, is given a new-found love for the law and truth, and experiences life more abundantly unless he or she obeys sinful desires still present leading to death albeit temporary consequences.

BUT, if so-called believers are taught that they cannot obey the law “perfectly” (which is not the point to begin with) which is supposedly the standard for being truly justified, and thereby leading to a relaxing of the law, you can now easily understand why secular people often live better than church members: their lesser death looks better than lesser life. In other words, the lost world can obey their consciences better than “God’s people” can obey the Bible because they don’t believe they can.

Moreover, so-called saints can also see the law written on their hearts as equally futile because law is law either way—law can only condemn. This totally eliminates the concept of justice which is not absent from the law written on the hearts of all born into the world. This means that the world will have more of a concept of justice than the church. Sound familiar?

Justification is not a mere “legal declaration.” In fact, law has not one wit anything to do with justification. The law either condemns or loves depending on whether a person is saved or unsaved. For the true believer, the law is for love—not justification. The belief that Christ keeps the law for us, because all are unable, accomplishes nothing because the law cannot justify—it can only love.

paul

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 5 – Law, Gospel, and Love

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 28, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally posted April 27, 2015

Listen to show audio or download audio file. 

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 5 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.

This is our final segment on 1John, and next week we will be doing a book review on “How People Change” by Paul David Tripp. I will be doing an overview of each of the 16 chapters in the book according to the theses of each chapter, and then will explain how the different points of each chapter fit together to form a particular doctrine. All in all, the book represents a pretty impressive application of Reformed mysticism.

Then, the following week, starting on May 8th, I think the time has come to do an in-depth evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation. Martin Luther’s  95 Theses launched the Reformation, but all Reformed doctrines flow from the Heidelberg Disputation. Though very subtle, our present church culture is saturated with a collectivist doctrine of death, and I want to show exactly where this culture of death came from. We will be evaluating the Heidelberg Disputation theses by theses. How many Baptists know anything about the Heidelberg Disputation? Few, if any, yet the foundation of evangelicalism flows from this document.

Last week, I got away from our Gnostic theme and showed a correlation between John’s theology and that of the apostle Paul. The focus was the new birth, which Gnosticism denies. The historical backdrop is John’s pushback against Gnosticism which denies that people change. The Gnostics of that day believed that the material realm is evil and the spiritual realm is pure.

The goal is well-being that comes from getting beyond the five senses in order to gain knowledge. The particular vein of Gnosticism that John was contending against believed that sin only occurs in the body, and man’s spirit has never sinned per se. As a result, God’s people were being taught that what they did in the body was insignificant, and man didn’t need to deal with sin. Gaining spiritual knowledge for their own well-being was the key to having a happy life.

They denied that Christ really came as a man and was God’s Son. They taught that there were two Christ’s; one born of men and a Christ that was a spiritual avatar of sorts.

At any rate, the doctrine denied Christ’s deity, that He came to die for sin, and that mankind needed forgiveness for sin. Consequently, it also denied the new birth. In the same way Protestantism obviously denies that people change, redefine the new birth as an ability to perceive realm manifestation, and have their own unique distortion of the Trinity. When it gets right down to it, authentic Protestantism posits the Father and the Spirit as shadows of Christ.

Therefore, in chapter 3, John focuses on the new birth and why it changes us. But the dominate theme of the book, especially chapters 4 and 5, concentrates on love. Why is that? Because love in action should be the primary focus of Christians. Instead, what is the primary focus of Protestantism? Right; sin, sin, sin, sin, sin. Yes, our focus must be keeping our sins covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Every song you sing, every sermon you hear is about how glorious Jesus is as set against our wretched vile selves. It boils down to praising our ability to see how rotten we are in the name of Jesus. (more…)

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.

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