Paul's Passing Thoughts

Galatians 2:20 and the Gospel According to Phil Johnson, Parts 1 & 2

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

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PAUL DOHSE: Welcome, truth lovers, to BlogTalkRadio.com/False Reformation. This is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part eight of the Magnum Opus of the Reformation, Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. Greetings from the Potter’s House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call 855-8317. I failed to put the area code in there. That’s (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. And again that number, just dial direct from your Skype account is (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective. Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host. You are on the air. What’s your comment or question,” just start talking. If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also e-mail me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s paul@Tom-Tony-Alice-Nancy-Cat.com. I have my e-mail monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Tonight, we’re going to have another interlude, and I know these interludes drive people crazy. But it is very important to establish and have a sentence by sentence evaluation of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation because that is the first and founding document of the Protestant Reformation. It was written about six months after Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses which is thought to have launched the Protestant Reformation, and I guess that’s fair enough. But the Heidelberg Disputation is the first and foundational document of the Protestant Reformation. And it is, absolutely, amazing how to this day, literally everything that we see in contemporary, or at least the return to the contemporary authentic Protestantism, flows from that document. But in doing this series, to have a sentence by sentence evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation, though very important, it is getting the cart a little bit before the horse. Because in our day, Christians, by and large, really don’t understand the gospel. They really don’t understand the gospel. And this is by design. This is the essence of Protestantism, a dumbed-downed congregant. And we’re learning why that is in our study of the Heidelberg Disputation. But foundational to the doctrinal illiteracy of present-day Christians is this whole idea that we’re sanctified by the gospel. So throughout Protestant history, the emphasis has always been the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, or the gospel or first importance or going back, discontinually going back to the cross. And this gets a pass, by and large, because people are saying, “Oh, this is just a theory on how to be better sanctified or how to better grow in our faith by returning to the original gospel that saved us time and time again.” But as we are learning, and the contention of this ministry is that our contention is – our contention is that no, this just isn’t one of many techniques to better grow in the Lord according to the Bible supposedly. No. This is a gospel or a soteriology that calls for us to continually return back to the same gospel that saved us, so that we can live by faith alone as a way to keep ourselves saved. This is the dirty little secret of Protestantism.

So in essence, you have a work salvation by faith alone or in essence, a work salvation by doing nothing, kind of like Bachman-Turner Overdrive theology. I work hard at doing nothing all day as a way to keep myself saved. Or the way they put it, living by faith alone. And if you think about those words carefully, one might logically ask, “How do you live by faith alone?” Kind of like saying, “How do you live by thinking alone without doing anything?” So this is why we’re taking these interludes. It’s very important for us to establish what exactly the foundational document of Protestantism is all about. But, again, for contemporary or present practical purposes, we need to get it out there what the true gospel is, the true biblicist gospel in comparison to–I hate to say it, I hate to just put it out there–Protestantism.

Now as we’ve discussed before, the official coined term by this ministry, anyway, concerning the official doctrine of the authentic Protestant Reformation, not the watered down version and the truisms connected with it that most Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, et cetera, are used to, we’re talking about this return to the authentic Protestant Gospel in the body of the new Calvinist movement, which is all but completely taken over the institutional church.

In regard to gospel sanctification, the go-to verse is Galatians 2:20. This is the primary go-to verse. Now a lot of people claim that the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, the Keswick movement and all these movements, they are really big on Galatians 2:20 as well. And what’s in vogue is to think that the Higher Life movement and the Keswick movement, so on and so forth, are somehow different from authentic Reformed Protestantism and their gospel. And such is not the case. The applications are different, but the basic soteriology is the same. And what is that? Here it is. It’s a soteriology based on gospel contemplationism, and keeping yourself saved by going back to the cross. Or in essence, keeping yourself saved through contemplationism of some sort because to actually do something would be works salvation because this is key running the basic premise, running through all these doctrines is that justification is progressive.

And as we’re going to hear, and how we’re going to approach this topic in the show today, what we’re going to hear, Phil Johnson of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church out in California, he is actually going to call salvation a process. And this is the fundamental basic premise of all of these doctrines, all of these passive doctrines, all of these doctrines that would say, synergistic sanctification is work salvation. Why? Because it’s, and we’ve all said this, “The growing part of salvation.” Well, folks, salvation doesn’t grow. Salvation doesn’t grow, okay? And, again, we’re going to really hunker down on Galatians 2:20 because I stumbled upon a video that’s a sermon by Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church in California where he really articulates Galatians 2:20 in the Reformed view to a T. And, again, in this incredible video, he is also speaking for the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, even though he speaks out against them in this.  Again, the basic soteriology is the same, this whole idea that salvation is a process that starts at point A and gets to point B and that we have to keep the process going by doing nothing. So we’re going to look at this, and this ministry is just going to flat out make a lot of hay of this video, and we’re going to slice it, dice it, rework it, keep adding to it, taking away from it. And we begin that process in today’s program. And basically, we’re going to continue that process on Sunday morning as well. And as well, we’re going to post videos on Paul’s Passing Thoughts, the blog, for TANC ministries. And we’re going to, really, work this thing. We better get going because the sermon itself was 50 some minutes. I cut some parts out, and I’ll tell you why when we get into the video. (more…)

The Heidelberg Disputation Series Part 12, Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2015

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So, I was over at my mom’s house minding my own business watching a little Fox News when I noticed a little booklet on the table beside the easy chair. I picked it up and observed the title: Devotions and Prayers of Martin Luther. Of course, I thought that would be interesting. When I opened it, I observed that my dad bought it for mom in 1962. That would be when her three boys, of which I am one would have been 6, 4, and 2. That’s three boys, 6, 4, and 2 which means she would have been needing a lot of prayers during that time. So this gift makes perfect sense. Anyway, I just indiscriminately cracked the thing open roughly in the middle to see what was there. Here is the prayer that I read:

Almighty God, great that we and all Christians may receive the holy sacrament savingly by thy grace. Give us our daily bread that Christ may abide in us and we in him, and that we may worthily bear the name Christians which we have received from him. Amen.

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 12 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation – Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.

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 over your cellphone. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. 347-855-8317.

Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host; you are on the air, what’s your comment or question”—just start talking.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Paul @ Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat .com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD with thesis 22. This is where we get into the true heart of the Protestant Reformation which concerned philosophy, or state of being.

Anything to do with justification or soteriology was grounded in philosophical or metaphysical presuppositions. I opened tonight with an example of that. Notice that Luther prayed that salvation would be imparted to believers through participation in the Lord’s Table. Whether Protestants know it or not, that’s why the Lord’s Table is such a solemn ceremony in the church—it’s imparting salvation. The solemn examination of self while droopy faced deacons or elders pass around the holy plastic thimbles filled with either grape juice or real wine depending on the outcome of the Baptist civil war in your neck of the woods is the mortification part of the ceremony, and one should expect a joyful demeanor following, ie., vivification.

The Lord’s Table is one of the big five that you do to run the Protestant race of faith alone on the way to the one big final “tribunal” where you find out if you lived by faith alone well enough to make it into heaven. The other four are church membership, sitting under elder preaching, prayer (primarily confession of “present sin”), and the baptism of the holy spirit through mortification and vilification. These all result in the vital union also mentioned in the same prayer: “that Christ may abide in us and we in him.” So, in regard to the initial baptism signified by water baptism which also initiates one into membership, this same baptism is lived out through self deprivation of some sort leading to resurrection experiences of one sort or another—usually incited by praise and worship music.

The Lord’s Table was never some solemn ceremony in the Christian assemblies, but rather an informal remembrance of Christ’s death during the fellowship meal. As Rome began to take over the home fellowships and assert authority over them, the paganization of Christian traditions took place; not least of which is this idea of perpetual union, or becoming one with some god through some sort of ritual. I would like you to observe the black chart on the slide show. Remember, this is not our chart, this is a visual illustration of the vital union, a formal Protestant doctrine.

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Notice that in this case, the union takes place through the “deep repentance” process noted on the left. Obviously, if the process on the left is not a onetime event, nether is the right side of the chart. Notice the title of the chart: fundamentally, Protestantism is a returning to the same gospel that saved you in order to relive the baptism of the Spirit over and over again. In other words, the “new birth” is not a onetime event that makes you part of God’s family. The goal of the so-called Christian life is new birth experiences in which the works of Christ are manifested in our realm or through us (double imputation). The Reformers draw from a number of different metaphysical theories to explain this like Idealism philosophy. That is the idea that reality only exists in the perception of the mind, and God is in control of the perceptions. But that is only one angle among many.

But let’s take that example as a way to explain how this all works. Protestantism is about justification by faith…ALONE throughout the whole course of our life. So, it begs the question: how does one live, which assumes human activity prompted by cranium activity, by faith alone? How does one work meditatively? Well, if the work you are doing is really nothing more than perception placed there by God, you aren’t really doing the work, right? You are only EXPERIENCING what Christ accomplished when He was living on earth. He lived out a perfect life for us (double imputation) which is now experienced through the vital union (“I’m in him, He’s in me”). This is also known as Christ for us, or Christ 100% for us. But you say, “But look at the top part of the chart! It says “heart changed.” Ok, let’s go to another Reformed illustration.

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What does the downward trajectory represent? Right, the left side of the other chart. What does the upward trajectory represent? Right, the right side of the chart. What does the cross represent? Right, the cross on the other chart. Now, what changes, you or the cross? Right, you don’t change, and in fact, if you fail to see how sinful you are the bottom trajectory goes up and the cross gets smaller. So, what is the authentic Protestant definition of “heart change”? Right, a mere perception or experience. I have at times likened this to standing in the rain. You experience the rain, you feel the rain, but you have no control over the rain. You are not doing the rain. Sanctification is being done to you, not by you. But you do something—you merely participate in the experience of salvation—it’s experiential only. This is how you supposedly live by faith alone.

This idea of being unified or becoming one with a god through some ritual is expressly pagan. Of course, what immediately comes to mind is the Aphrodite cults throughout history. This idea of union with a god through sexual intercourse with a temple prostitute even crept into the first century home assemblies:

1Corinthians 6:14 – And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sine a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

From the historian Herodotus we learn:

The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus (Herodotus, The Histories 1.199, tr A.D. Godley 1920).

What is our major concluding point here? That authentic Protestantism traded the biblical definition of the new birth, a onetime event that makes us a permanent part of God’s literal family, for the ongoing experience of so-called vital union, and that Protestantism’s way of obtaining that experience is just one among many not excluding the ritual of temple prostitution. It’s the same idea; temporary experiential union in contrast to a permanent new birth and onetime Spirit baptism.

Also, and more to the point regarding this area of the HD, is that these rituals necessarily take the place of knowledge because of the authentic Protestant worldview. More on that shortly, but let me now address a comment received this week on PPT.com because it’s a good example of the waters of confusion that Protestants swim in as a result of historical ignorance.

This honestly saddens me… I just finished reading Platt’s “Radical”, and I don’t feel that he deserves this. My understanding of his book is “if you truly love Jesus, it will change your life”. Platt is living out John 14:21 by obeying God’s commands to take care of the poor and needy, and living out Matthew 28:18-20 in bringing the gospel to all nations. This book (and Platt’s life) is designed to get the church on board with the mission of God, and is built on passages like 1 John 3:16-18. I’d much rather be like Platt, trying to get the church involved in the mission of God, instead of sitting in the pews screaming at anyone who doesn’t agree with what they think. Honestly, how can we call ourselves followers of a God (who IS love), and then unlovingly thrash another human being? Maybe we should read 1 John 4:21 before we start hating on a brother? Just a thought… lest we be condemned before God for not loving him.

More than likely, the individual who wrote this comment doesn’t understand how authentic Protestantism interprets the reality that Platt appears to be calling people to. More than likely, a more careful examination of the sentences in the book would paint a different picture. Platt is a Neo-Calvinist purist and would hold to almost everything in the HD, so let us consider thesis 24 in comparison to the reader’s comment:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.

Platt is therefore not “living out” anything nor is he calling others to do so. Platt isn’t really talking about good works in the book, but rather manifestations of Christ’s imputed righteousness. It is VERY unlikely that Platt does not hold to double imputation.

Again, this soteriology is necessarily the application of the Reformed world philosophy of choice integrated with Scripture.

Thesis 22: That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: »The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.«The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: »The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.« This holds true of all desires.

Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on, as Christ shows in John 4:13, where he says, »Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again.«

The remedy for curing desire does not lie in satisfying it, but in extinguishing it. In other words, he who wishes to become wise does not seek wisdom by progressing toward it but becomes a fool by retrogressing into seeking»folly«. Likewise he who wishes to have much power, honor, pleasure, satisfaction in all things must flee rather than seek power, honor, pleasure, and satisfaction in all things. This is the wisdom which is folly to the world.

Therefore, the Reformation called for the eradication of all knowledge as an evil lust that cannot be satisfied. Consequently, the Bible only has ONE use:

Thesis 23: The »law brings the wrath« of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.

Thus Gal. 3:13 states, »Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law«; and:»For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse« (Gal. 3:10); and Rom. 4:15: »For the law brings wrath«; and Rom. 7:10: »The very commandment which promised life proved to be the death of me«; Rom. 2:12: »All who have sinned without the law will also perish without law.«Therefore he who boasts that he is wise and learned in the law boasts in his confusion, his damnation, the wrath of God, in death. As Rom. 2:23 puts it:»You who boast in the law.«

Hence, the Bible only aids us in self condemnation in regard to the downward trajectory on the cross chart and the process of vital union. The Bible is not to be used to gain any kind of knowledge, but is only a tool for self-condemnation, or “death at hand” in order to experience the vivification of what Reformed soteriology defines as the new birth. As seen in the summary of the 22nd thesis, any notion that objective conclusions can be drawn from that which is seen is utter wickedness according to this view.

That concludes tonight’s lesson, let’s go to the phones.

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 12, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published March 31, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.”

How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. 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.

Ok, so this whole idea is very Protestant, that we must keep going back to the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. But, it’s all good because we are going back to the “gospel” and the “gospel” is by faith alone so going back to the gospel is a faith alone work which isn’t really a work. So, it’s ok to do something to keep ourselves saved as long as it’s a faith alone work.

As we discussed last week, here is where the home fellowship movement stands apart from the institutional church: salvation is a finished work; salvation is NOT a progression from point A to point B. The new birth is a onetime instantaneous quickening of the believer. The believer then in fact does move on to something completely different—kingdom living, or discipleship. Central to Protestantism is the idea that moving on from the gospel to doctrinal maturity is an abomination. The who’s who of Protestantism can be cited many times in stating this in no uncertain terms.

The home fellowship movement is not a mere preference over the institutional church—it is an anti-progressive justification movement. It is a return to the true gospel of Christ. All of the institutional church either embraces progressive justification or is willing to fellowship with it and is therefore altogether guilty.

Last week, we also introduced the fact that 1John must be interpreted according to its historical context. The number one nemesis of the 1st century assemblies was Gnosticism and 1John is a treatise against it. We covered John’s introduction which was a direct pushback against the Gnostic idea that the spiritual Christ did not die on the cross. We believe that John was specifically addressing the Gnostic teachings of Cerinthus. He taught that there was more than one Christ; one born naturally of human parents that will be resurrected with all other men in the last days, and the spiritual Christ who dwells in heaven. Elsewhere, John wrote:

1John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

The very definition of antichrist teachings is the denial that the true Christ (Messiah) was part of the material world, or actually came in the flesh. Gnostic systems of thought are very complex, but the cardinal principle is that material is evil and the spiritual or invisible is good.

The important distinction is that biblically, the material creation is not inherently evil, but weak. This is an important distinction because Christ coming as man makes it possible for men to be literally recreated and part of God’s literal family. The teaching that “denies Jesus is the Christ” (Messiah: 1Jn 2:22) circumvents the new birth. Throughout this epistle, John refers to the recipients as “little offsprings”(teknion; little children). I want to dig into this a little deeper; the new birth and its relationship to apostolic succession, but first, let me address the crux issue here.

John was also addressing an aspect of Gnosticism that believed the following: sin only resides in the material, and the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned. In essence, it doesn’t matter what we do in the body because the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned, and that is the only part of man that is eternal anyway. Many scholars concur that this was a common form of Gnosticism. Of course, this disavows any need for Christ to die on the cross and makes the knowledge of this supposed lie salvation itself. Salvation by being made into something new is out—coming to grips with the gnosis regarding man’s inner spark of divinity is in. This backdrop now explains exactly what John was getting at in 1John 1:7-10 and 2:1,2.

1John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

1John 2:1 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“We” in these verses should be viewed as speaking to mankind in general while including both saved and unsaved individuals. Recognizing that Christ came to deal with man’s sin problem is efficacious to the gospel.

John is NOT stating the Protestant gospel of “deep repentance” which teaches that we keep ourselves saved (or washed) via a “lifestyle of repentance.” That would be a perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us for relief from “present sin.” That flies in the face of biblical justification. This makes “if” in these verses a conditional conjunction. That would mean that our sins continue to be forgiven, or washed, or cleansed “if” we “walk in the light” and continue to repent. That’s clearly works salvation, and clearly a reapplication of Christ’s sacrifice to present sin. As actually taught in Protestant circles, the sacrifice only happened once, but the remembrance of it continues to cleanse present and future sins.

This is the whole deal behind, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” and the vital union doctrine. Living a “lifestyle of repentance” or deep repentance “keeps us in the love of Jesus.” This is salvation by Jesus + deep repentance to keep ourselves saved. The Reformed say, “No, it’s not works because repentance is a faith alone work,” but not even a so-called faith alone work can keep you born again—you can’t unborn yourself by not doing something. Look, here is the money point on all of this: the needed present and future forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant institutional church via baptism/formal membership. And we will be addressing that a little further along.

One of the many problems with this is, in regard to believers, follows: in order for present sin to exist, there has to be a law, and the blood of Christ ended the law—it’s a onetime cleansing. To have some need to reapply the blood of Christ to present sin implies that there is still sin, and there is not because where there is no law—there is no sin, and Christ died on the cross to end the law. This fact is found in Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:8, 10:4.

Some insist that John’s context here is fellowship, and since fellowship is the context, John is writing about repentance that is necessary to keep us in proper family relationship with God, and not a repentance that keeps us in the family of God; ie., John is talking about sanctification and not justification. Frankly, that’s the view that I used to hold to as well.

But John is talking about the onetime cleansing that justifies. Note that throughout these verses that it is a forgiveness that cleanses from “all sin” and “all unrighteousness.” That has to be justification. What John is saying is that no matter who you are in humanity, you have need to be forgiven of sin by believing that Jesus is the Christ and died for you. Note the subjects of these verses: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

However, John is also saying that this fact doesn’t give us a license to sin any more than the Gnostics, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But watch this: “But if anyone does sin, we [everyone] have an advocate with the Father.” Ok John, an advocate for what purpose? Answer: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Who are the subjects? It’s obvious who the subjects are.

If this isn’t speaking to a onetime cleansing of sin, the world doesn’t need the new birth any more than Christians—they only need to ask forgiveness so the blood of Christ will be applied to the particular sin. Not only that, the new birth is also disavowed through the denial of a new creaturehood displayed by people who have passed from death to life. And John is speaking directly towards this issue as well. You see, who the “we” are and what the “if” is—is critical to interpreting these verses properly. The “we” are the “anyone.” The “if” is a cause and effect conjunction and not a conditional conjunction.

And let me tell you something, Protestant theologians rarely have any qualms about saying that God’s promises are conditional. I mean, what’s the paramount example? Replacement theology/supersessionism, right? This whole idea that Israel’s election was conditional on them holding up their end of the covenant. I just don’t know what can be more obvious, and this is their exact take on justification as well.

This is the crux. John is saying that if we walk in the light, it’s because we have been born again, not that we keep ourselves born again if we do our part by walking in the light. Walking in the light is not our part of the so-called vital union, we walk in the light because that’s what new creatures do; cows like hay and ducks like water—it’s a cause and effect conjunction not a conditional conjunction.

Now, here is where we really struggle with these verses: in verse 7, the English word in the plural strongly suggests a present continuous action. Verse 9 really isn’t that much of a problem as it’s merely saying that anyone that confesses their sin is cleansed of all unrighteousness. Note the following verse 10 that can be rendered this way: “If we say we have not [never] sinned.” The English “ed’ on the end of sin indicates past tense like, “I sinned.” That’s past tense. If John is speaking to the present continuance, why would he have not written, “if we say that we do not sin.” Right? Verse 9 simply fits into the Gnostic motif that John was arguing against.

Neither is 1John 2:1, 2 a problem. John is simply stating that anyone who recognizes their sin and wants to do something about it has an advocate in Christ who cleanses all sin. And by the way, the rest of John’s letter backs up my Pauline argument to the hilt. Just, all over the place in the rest of the letter, for example,

1John 3:3 – “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.”

He came to “take away sin,” not to cover it with His own righteousness and to continue to forgive it. Christ came to end sin altogether. Are we “in Christ”? Well, in Him there is NO sin. So if we are in Him, why would we need forgiveness for present or future sin in regard to justification? In 1John 2:12-14, forgiveness of sin and overcoming the evil one is spoken of in the past tense.

The only matter at hand is the word “cleanses” in verse 7.  Let me point something out to you. Most of the English translations that we have come out of the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, and there are myriads of examples of this, the translations are tainted with progressive justification presuppositions. And unfortunately, this includes the Greek word-study helps. Here is something I read in one:

Every encounter with a command to obey, is our opportunity to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural commands from the supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don’t let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His help is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of a little “push” so to speak.

See the problem? You can know the Greek backwards and forwards, but what good does it do if “help” doesn’t mean “help”? Look, what good have all of the Protestant Greek scholars done for us? I came to realize the problem of progressive justification by my own independent study in Romans. The basic concept easily understood regardless of the language, “where there is no law there is no sin.” That statement astounded me, but was the key to unraveling the whole mystery. Once you understand that fundamental, the rest of the Bible, when taken in context, fits together perfectly in every way. How much did any knowledge of Greek aid me in this understanding? Nada. Goose egg. Zilch. Loco zippo.

Greek can be confirming, and helpful, but the Bible is written in definitive structures that mean the same thing in all languages and that is no accident. You can translate the fact that Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin, any way you want to—it’s going to mean the same thing in any language. Then you start seeing where the concept fits together with everything else in the Bible which enables you to nail down what the anomalies are. And a lot of the anomalies are bias towards a certain worldview.

Notice in the example I gave there is no room given for an authentic colaboring between us and the Holy Spirit. It is either all us or all of the Holy Spirit. My friends, that is the Protestant redemptive-historical worldview to a T and it is fundamentally Gnostic in its premise. Hence, when you use Greek word-study helps, you are often dealing with the same bias. This is why I eventually threw away my Kenneth Wuest expanded New Testament translation. I started seeing clear bias in how he processed the Greek verbs and I was totally done with him at that point.

I spent the better part of yesterday researching 1John 1:7 and the word “cleanses” therein. We know from biblical context that this verse cannot be saying that the one sacrifice of Christ continues to rewash us IF we continue to walk in the light; ie., Protestantism. And let me give you the thumbnail: if you remain faithful to the institutional church and its sacraments/ordinances, that keeps you saved. Even if the Greek usage indicates a present continual action there is no way to distinguish that from the simple reality of being washed once and remaining clean thereafter. In other words, there is no way to definitively distinguish between two intents: a required reapplication to reinstate a status or an unchanged status that continues in the same state without any further action.

Though “cleanses” appears to be some kind of continuing action in the ESV version of 1John 1:7 as well as many other versions, we know that this same cleansing of regeneration is clearly stated as a onetime final act in many, many other Bible passages. For example,

1 Corinthians 6:11- “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Ok, you have “were” in there four times with sinful lifestyles being in the past tense, and sanctified, justified, and “washed” being in the present tense. It is one event that happens one time and transforms us into an immutable state. Period. This is irrefutable. And by the way, if you do a New Testament word search on the exact form of the Greek word “cleanses” (other translations “cleanseth”) in 1John 1:7, it is almost always used as a onetime ceremonial cleansing.

Matthew 8:2 – “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ” Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” [Here in Mathew 8:2, the same exact form of the Greek word is used for past, present, and future tense. “Ed” is added to the English word “cleansed” to indicate past tense].

Note how Young’s Literal Translation has 1John 1:7.

“and if in the light we may walk, as He is in the light — we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son doth cleanse us from every sin;”

Now, not only does this simply state the fact that the blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin with a much less conditional translation, it’s interesting that the YLT picks up on something that Andy related to me yesterday in regard to the word “may”:

What is interesting is that all of the examples that John uses where he says “if” are all 3rd class conditions.  All the key verbs are in the subjunctive mood.

Here is an excerpt regarding 3rd class conditions…

“The third class condition often presents the condition as uncertain of fulfillment, but still likely.  There are, however, many exceptions to this…The third class condition encompasses a broad range of potentialities in Koine Greek. It depicts what is likely to occur in the future, what could possibly occur, or even what is only hypothetical and will not occur” (Wallace, p. 696).

So John is really posing a series of future hypothetical situations. Any place where it says “if” you should read it as “if ever in the future…” or “if at any time in the future…”

It would appear that this seems to be an exercise in reason using hypothetical examples to refute the gnostics that were among them in those assemblies. Notice that the present tense verbs are present tense because they are in the conclusion (apodosis) to the proposed hypothetical conditional premise (protasis). But the verbs in the premise (protasis) are in the subjunctive mood.

Also, you cannot read verse 7 without verse 6.  Verse 7 is an antithetical conclusion of verse 6. In other words, you can’t properly interpret vs 7 without vs 6. In fact, notice how 7 contrasts 6, AND vs 9 contrasts vs 8 also!  They are parallel arguments, and then vs 10 kind of sums it up.

This bolsters my contention that John is addressing people in general regarding the ramifications of their beliefs about sin in contrast to Gnosticism. That’s the crux here: the backdrop is the Gnosticism John is addressing. If you say that you have no sin, for whatever reason, you are making God out to be a liar. But if you confess your sin, God will cleanse you from all unrightousness. And, that will have an effect on your life because you have been cleansed. John does not hone-in on the new birth right here, but does so in chapter 3 bigtime. Really, chapter 3 clarifies exactly what is being stated in the first two chapters.

In addition, John is saying that even though those who confess their sin are cleansed of all sin, that is not a different kind of license to sin without ramifications. Hence, “…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But if you do recognize that you have sin, we have an advocate with the Father that is a propitiation for all sin, those who confess that they have sin, and those who may in the future confess that they have sin—this is what is going on in this passage. And by the way, this is another refutation of limited atonement as well.

Let me give another example that might help clarify all of this. One Reformed fellow (a disciple of Paul David Tripp) arguing against me in regard to all of this stated the following:

In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually. The substance that refreshes is the same (Christ’s salvation, in an ongoing manner)…For Calvin, the cleaning is ongoing, because there WILL be new sins, and 1 John tells us there are new sins. WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.

See the problem with not interpreting this passage in its historical context? John isn’t talking about “new sins,” he is talking about SIN period. Where is there anything stated in this passage in regard to “new sins”? What relevance does “new sins” have with the unsaved world that is one of the subjects of this passage? The unsaved have “new sins”?

Also, Christians do not have “new sins” because Christ ended the law and where there is no law there is no sin. This is exactly why the Protestant gospel keeps people under law—the whole concept of “new sin.”

In addition, notice what he states about John 4 that is a common Reformed position:

“In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually.”

This statement is a common smoking gun that damns Protestantism. In that passage, Jesus said that those who drink of the water will never… (what?) again? Right, they will NEVER “thirst” again. Christians may need refreshment against the weakness of the flesh, but we never need our justification to be refreshed—that’s just a blatant false gospel.

Moreover, note, “WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.” This is where the “if(s)” of 1John totally shoot Protestantism in its gospel foot. If you take this approach, the if(s) of 1John 1:7-2:2 are conditional upon confessing “new sins.” This clearly makes the cleansing of sin that makes us part of God’s family conditional. It makes the new birth conditional. “If” we don’t confess, we can be unborn.

Doesn’t it make much more sense if John is saying that we (people in general) have to recognize that men have sin in order to receive a cleansing from it? Sure it does. John is pushing back against a philosophy that taught the following: man is spirit and therefore without sin; only the material world has sin. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what people do in the body, it’s all just part of the material world that is passing away. This also rejects the new birth and its righteous lifestyle that walks in the light as Christ is in the light and there is no darkness in Him. Those who walk in the light are born of the light and they are of the light because they recognized the need to confess their sin in order to be cleansed. Hence…

John 3:2 – “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.”

Next week, we are going to look at how the rest of the book of 1John fits into this Pauline soteriological schema perfectly. Why does John follow our passage at hand with a discussion of love and then the new birth? How do we get from the gospel anomaly of “new sins” to “love,” and what does that have to do with the new birth? How does all of this make walking in the light synonymous with the new birth?

See you next, and now let’s go to the phones.

The Nature of God

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

God-Is-LoveI believe incredibly exciting times await God’s people as they break free from the Protestant Orthodoxy Dark Ages. The key will be the realization that God wrote the Bible for the average individual. We have an example of this regarding the nature of God; a subject thought to be too deep for the average disciple.

Our only head is Christ who teaches all, and the idea of being taught assumes the ability to understand. God’s people need to simply let the words in the Bible say what they plainly say, and we are individually responsible for doing so. One must free their minds from the tyranny of orthodoxy and journey into the Bible with their own God-given mind, and they will be responsible to God alone for doing so.

What then does the Bible teach us about God’s nature? The Bible states that God is love:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Obtaining God’s Love

Protestant orthodoxy has a peculiar teaching known as the “vital union.” According to Reformed tradition, we maintain this vital union of “Christ in us and us in Christ” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves.” This is done by searching for sin in our lives so that we can return to the cross for forgiveness resulting in increased salvation. The following chart publicized by several Reformed organizations illustrates the process:

how-to-preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-2 (2)

In case you think this is a “biblical” process for best results in growing as a disciple expressed in the illustration by “Heart Changed,” think again as illustrated by another chart published by several Reformed organizations as well:

gospel-grid

In this chart, what is growing? Us, or our “salvation”? Many Reformed teachers in our day are fond of telling us how to “keep ourselves in the love of God” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” In fact, if we change, the following chart from the same camp shows the consequences:

ssp_temp_capture1

…our salvation gets smaller! In contrast, we obtain God’s love once, and for all time, by believing in His Son, and experience assurance of that love but walking according to our new being.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him…

But according to Protestant orthodoxy, if we make every effort to love God and others instead making every effort to find more and more sin in our lives, the gospel effect in our lives is diminished.

The Nature of God

How we obtain the love of God as prescribed by Protestant orthodoxy flows from its tenets regarding the nature of God. Primarily, God is defined as sovereign. Rather than sovereignty being an aspect of God’s nature, it is made to be the primary organizing principle—not love. This is an important distinction for those who take part in the exodus from Protestant darkness; will God’s nature be defined by a grammatical and exegetical interpretation of Scripture, or an interpretation based on orthodoxy?

Clearly, the Bible states that God is love. So, how does the Bible define love? Let’s see:

1Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The so-called Reformed gospel of sovereignty calls for the total inability of man to love God even after their definition of conversion. One well known Reformed theologian wrote a book titled One Way Love. This staple Protestant belief is defined in the doctrine of double imputation which calls for the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness to be imputed to our lives apart from anything we do other than preaching the gospel to ourselves. Much is made of living the Christian life by faith alone in order to maintain our “just standing.”

What it boils down to is God creating evil for His own glory. Whether you consider the teachings of Martin Luther or John Calvin, the founding fathers of Protestantism, this is an irrefutable fact. Luther taught that God created mankind with a passive will; in other words, a will that can only act if acted upon from an outside source. This testifies to God’s nature as defined by sovereignty. Hence, certain people are predetermined to suffer for eternity. In regard to this, John Calvin stated,

[God] arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.

~Institutes 3.23.6

I again ask how is it that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy, unless it so seemed meet to God?…The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree.

~Institutes 3.23.7

This is contrary to love which is the true nature of God, being “kind,” and “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Reformed even make it a point to say that God did no wrong by creating man in an evil state because the end cause is God’s glory. If God brings good out of something evil, in the final analysis it is good because the end is good. It is also said that God created evil to make good better. However, that still does not dispose of the kindness issue. Love CANNOT be unkind to ANYONE.

Furthermore, it does not seek its own way, and you can insert “its own glory” in that list as well. Moreover, love does not rejoice in evil for any outcome, and always rejoices in truth and not the temporary demise of truth for some kind of better outcome. That notion is absurd.

In the final analysis, one of God’s attributes is sovereignty, but sovereignty is not the organizing principle of his nature because his nature is love.

paul

The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 6, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.”

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Last week we did pretty well; we began with an introduction and completed the first two theses. Tonight, we begin with thesis 3.

Thesis 3: Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

Human works appear attractive outwardly, but within they are filthy, as Christ says concerning the Pharisees in Matt. 23:27. For they appear to the doer and others good and beautiful, yet God does not judge according to appearances but searches »the minds and hearts« (Ps. 7:9). For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart. Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous. But the just speak in behalf of their works in the following way: »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee« (Ps. 143:2). The Apostle speaks likewise in Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins. In the third place, Rom. 2:21 states, »You who teach others not to steal, do you steal?« St. Augustine interprets this to mean that men are thieves according to their guilty consciences even if they publicly judge or reprimand other thieves.

In this third thesis, Luther declares ALL works of men evil. That includes the works of believers as well. Again, we come to a paramount tenet of the Reformation; total depravity does not only pertain to mankind in general, but also the saints. Even though the works of men appear “good and beautiful” (eerily similar to Plato’s trinity of the good, true, and beautiful), they are evil:

If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous.

By the way, this is synonymous with the Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11. Luther hints in this thesis in regard to why all the works of men can be deemed wicked: they are under the law, and no man can keep the law perfectly:

 But the works of men are the works of the law…

This is another way of saying that Christians remain under the law just like unbelievers, and since no person can keep the law perfectly, all bets are off. The Calvin Institutes 3.14.10 is an in-depth articulation of this idea. This is amazing because it’s right here where Reformed soteriology falls completely apart and turns the whole Bible upside down. Right here, you are looking at it. It’s the idea that Christians cannot perform a good work because they are still under the law and the law demands perfect obedience.

Also, amazingly, all of the major tenets of the Reformation gospel are in this one thesis. Let’s begin with Luther’s heart theology that actually laid the foundation for the contemporary biblical counseling movement; at least what came out of Westminster’s CCEF. An illustration can be seen below.

Luther cites Matthew 23:27 and Psalms 7:9 to make the point that the outward works of men are meaningless and God looks upon the heart. In this theology, the “heart” is the seat of faith. Even though the believer can do no good work; the believer’s heart (or faith) can be pure. What Luther proffers as we move along is a purity totally disconnected from works, and purity (faith) that is strictly an ability to perceive, and depending on the Reformed camp, experience the works of God completely separate from anything man does. If we pay close attention, we see these ideas in this third thesis.

For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart.

We must continue to remember that what Luther is saying about the heart is completely disconnected from man’s ability to do a good work. Why? Because everything man does is under the law and no man can keep the law perfectly. Again…

But the works of men are the works of the law…

Everything man does whether lost or saved is under the law, and since no man can keep the law perfectly; all of his works are condemned. The next part is very important:

Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The heart is cleansed by faith alone, and as we will see further along in our study, Luther believed that these cleansings needed to be repeated for ongoing present sin. But a little bit of thinking will reveal it here as well. If we are still under the law, we continue to sin against the law which necessarily demands a repurification. Especially since this sin is “mortal sin.” However,

But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins.

It boils down to this: if one thinks they performed a good work or are able to perform a good work, that’s mortal (subject to death) sin. But a faith that separates itself from works is venial (forgivable) sin which must be continually sought to receive ongoing cleansing. Luther elaborates on this more in the latter theses, but note how he uses Psalm 143:2 in this regard:

 »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee«

To not completely depend on faith alone, and thinking that you can do a good work is being under the curse of the law:

Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins.

So there is no middle ground; one either depends totally on faith or on works. The belief that one can do a good work is tantamount to being cursed.

This third thesis is the very heart of the Reformation: no man can do a good work, and to believe that is pure faith apart from any good works. Again, faith and good works are separated. Now you know why Luther didn’t like the book of James. The premise for this is the supposed fact that believers remain under law which is a glaring contradiction to Scripture. The “heart” is the seat of pure faith apart from any works; faith and works are mutually exclusive throughout the life of the “believer.”

Thesis 4: Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.

That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53:2, »He had no form of comeliness«, and in 1 Sam. 2:6, »The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.« This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11:31 says, »If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged by the Lord«. Deut. 32:36 also states, »The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.« In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.

Here we have the Reformed mainstay doctrine of mortification and vivification. This is a major Reformed soteriological doctrine along with double imputation and the vital union. But in regard to M&V, here it is folks—right here. This is probably where this doctrine is first introduced.

But first, let’s look at the Reformation’s single perspective on the law also in this thesis. Luther makes it clear that the supposed sole purpose of the law is to bring man down into despair because of his total depravity:

This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

Once we use the law, and God uses circumstances to bring us into despair, that is the mortification part, God brings about vivification, or exaltation. As you can see, Luther uses 2Corithians 6:9,10 to make the case for that. This suffering is actually the good works of God as opposed to the evil works that look good to man; ie., good works done by men whether saved or unsaved. Later in this disputation Luther will define that as the story of man, or the glory story, viz, good and beautiful works done by man, versus the cross story, viz, the works of God that look unattractive. As we will see further along, this is Luther’s very definition of the new birth. The Christian life is a perpetual death (mortification) and resurrection (vivification) cycle that continually repeats itself experientially from despair to joy.

This is also the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine. Joy must be part of the salvation experience because it is the upside of the perpetual new birth experience that keeps salvation moving forward by faith alone. If you only experience despair, that’s a half gospel. Many are confused by John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine until they understand M&V, then it all makes perfect sense why joy must be part of the salvation experience. Contemporary Reformers state it this way:

Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, or he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

Now, the next thesis is fairly interesting. In the fifth thesis, Luther distinguishes between crimes and mortal sins.

Thesis 5; The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men, such as adultery, theft, homicide, slander, etc. Mortal sins, on the other hand, are those which seem good yet are essentially fruits of a bad root and a bad tree. Augustine states this in the fourth book of ›Against Julian‹ (Contra Julianum).

This is pretty straight forward. Criminal acts are NOT classified as mortal sins. Criminal acts are works that are condemned among men while mortal sins are the good works of man that are really “fruit of a bad tree.” Those of orthodoxy must deny that man does any good work at all that is not condemned by God. The belief that any man can do any kind of meritorious work falls under sin that will not be forgiven. This means that Reformed persons in the know would seek daily forgiveness for every, and all acts performed by them. It pretty much boils down to this quotation cited by a theological journal:

The flesh, or sinful nature of the believer is no different from that of the unbeliever. “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration.” — Bavinck [Reformed philosopher Herman Bavink] (Present Truth: Sanctification-Its Mainspring  Volume 16 Article 13).

At this point it is fairly easy to draw a watershed conclusion in all of this: the lynchpin idea of the Reformation was that salvation can only be obtained and maintained with a righteousness not our own, but also the exclusion of righteous acts performed by us. At this point, there is only one way forward: a mystical manifestation of works performed by deity; Martin Luther’s Alien Righteousness. This necessarily demanded and still demands a discussion of a philosophical ideology to make manifestation and realm birthing feasible. The Heidelberg Disputation not only does that, but articulates the theoretical life application and how these manifestations are experiences in reality. Luther was very concise in that regard while anticipating future objections.

Thesis 6: The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

In Eccles. 7:20, we read, »Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.« In this connection, however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble? For this meaning would then be adequately expressed by the following: »There is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin.« Why does he add »who does good,« as if another person were righteous who did evil? For no one except a righteous man does good. Where, however, he speaks of sins outside the realm of good works he speaks thus (Prov. 24:16), »The righteous man falls seven times a day.« Here he does not say: A righteous man falls seven times a day when he does good. This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

Luther’s rusty and rough hatchet is an interesting metaphysical illustration. Notice carefully who the “’good’ craftsman” is. That can’t be us, right? Right, we are the rusty and rough hatchet. A hatchet, like all other tools, is a completely passive instrument. It has no life of its own. It only does what the craftsman does with it. Like one Reformed teacher said to me, “The Christian life is done to us not by us.”

Also, the hatchet doesn’t get any credit for the work, but only the good craftsman using the axe. This is Luther’s cardinal point of the thesis. This is a strict metaphysical dichotomy of good and evil with man defining evil and God defining good (The Calvin Institutes 1.1.1.). All manifestations of good on earth must come from above, and no good can be in man or come out of man.

Of course, this makes God the creator of rusty and rough hatchets; ie., sin and evil, but remember, as Luther stated, the good work of the craftsman only appears to be evil to us, right?

Although there is no room in this series to unravel every Scripture text that Luther twisted for his own purposes, I will speak to his use of Ecclesiastes 7:20 to make his point. All that verse is really saying is that man needs wisdom because he is not sinless and is prone to erroneous ways and death without wisdom. It’s not saying that no man does any good work. The idea in the text as noted by translations like NASB follows: no man does only good exclusively.

A thought before we go to the phones for you who are aware of our ministry’s dustup this week with the Wartburg Watch. Some folks from over there came over to PPT claiming that we have no orthodoxed credentials; therefore, apparently, our views are not relevant. Well, two things: if this is not orthodoxy, what is? And secondly, how can people claim to be advocates for the abused when they hold to this doctrine? They are either blowhards that don’t even understand what they are talking about, or they do understand. Which is it? Let’s go to the phones.

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