18
Jun
14

Some Were Tortured–Hebrews 11:35b-38

In Hebrews 11:35b-38 we read,  

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-of whom the world was not worthy-wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

It is easy to talk about faith in ways that betray a profound misunderstanding of the biblical concept. One often gets the impression that people of faith will enjoy a safe, healthy and trouble free existence. We are led to believe that if we have sufficient faith, we will never be sick or suffer deprivation. Some would have us believe that God wants us to have our best life now, and if we have sufficient faith to visualize it, we can make it happen. This is contrary to the biblical teaching about faith, and these verses are evidence of this fact.

In the verse that follows these words (v. 39), the writer tells us “ALL THESE” were commended for their faith. Included in “all these” are not only those whom God used to accomplish valiant victories and those he delivered from death and suffering but those who were tortured and killed. Those who have lived in kings’ palaces were no greater men and women of faith than those who were destitute, afflicted, deprived, and mistreated.

Faith is not a matter of believing God will always deliver us from sickness and suffering and give us everything we can visualize or request. Faith is trusting God to be faithful to fulfill his promises even though it seems from all the sensory evidence available to us that he has turned against us.

We must never forget that many of God’s most favored people were, nevertheless, suffering people. Some were tortured and refused to accept release because they knew that to do so would have required their infidelity to God. They understood that genuine faith is an overcoming faith. They knew that to cling to this life by acting in unbelief and infidelity to God would involve forfeiting a better life to come.

Others were mocked and subjected to brutality, flogged and imprisoned. Some were stoned to death. Stoning was a typically a Jewish form of execution. Jesus referred to official Jerusalem as those who stoned those messengers that God had sent to it (Matt. 23:37). This was likely the manner in which Jeremiah was executed. Others were sawn in two. Tradition tells us that Isaiah was put to death in this manner. Others suffered death at the point of a sword. The writer’s intent was to show that men and women of faith are not exempt from suffering and death at the hands of wicked men. We must never be led to think that men and women of faith will have their best life now or that suffering, sickness and trials indicate our lack of faith. We should consider faithful pastor of a small and struggling rural church no less a man of faith than those who minister the Word to thousands. We must regard those who are perpetually plagued with illness as no less people of faith than those who are never ill.

We must always remember that those men and women of faith who were little known and soon forgotten were no less men and women of faith than those whose noble exploits were celebrated in this grand roster of the faithful. The writer tells us the world that took little note of them was not worthy of them. These were not the wealthy and powerful who are so often lauded as examples of success, but heaven acknowledged them as men and women of faith. Though not adorned with fine clothing or housed in mansions and though destitute, despised and forsaken by the world, they appear here as those whose faithfulness is acknowledged in heaven.

The sentiments of the faithful are well expressed in the words of Henry F. Lyte who wrote,

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shall be:
Perish every fond ambition,
All I sought, or hoped, or known:
Yet how rich is my condition;
God and heav’n are still my own.

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heav’n will bring me sweeter rest:
O ’tis not in grief to harm me
While thy love is left to me;
O ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with thee.

 

11
Apr
14

Comments on Dohse’s Delusions–Part Two

Paul Dohse Sr. and his ilk provide us with wonderful negative examples regarding biblical interpretation. Perhaps blinded by his bitterness over perceived wrongs done to him, he regularly violates accepted canons of interpretation in his campaign to topple Calvinism, his perceived enemy. In reality, he is his own worst enemy since he continues to write such ludicrous articles that prevent any intelligent student of Scripture taking him seriously. He regularly accuses me of believing he and his fawning followers are biblically ignorant–a charge to which I must plead guilty. My concern is not for the intelligent and well-informed student of the Scriptures but for the average bench warmer who may stumble on his blog and be influenced by it. He must feel terribly insecure about his views since he regularly censors opposing opinions.

Additionally, if he provides any documentation at all, he quotes people out of context to make it appear they intended something other than their actual teaching.

Yesterday, he posted an article titled “Predestination is Not True: 2Peter 3:1-13.” 2 Peter 3:9 was the sole passage on which he based this pontification as if there are no other passages in the Scriptures that bear on this issue. He proceeded to accuse the ESV translators of theological bias since they translated “toward you” instead of the AV “to us ward” [granted "usward" is a term we all use everyday, NOT!]. A little investigation would have revealed that the difference is not translational but textual. The translators were not controlled by theological bias, but by the text they saw before them.

In this article, he has violated several accepted hermeneutical canons. Unless you are one of his followers who scoffs at biblical inerrancy, you will follow the rule that Scripture does not contradict itself. A hortatory passage will not contradict a theological passage. We must seek harmonization between clear theological passages and those passages that seem to contradict the clear teaching of the rest of Scripture.

One of the first questions one must ask when approaching any passage concerns the writer’s purpose in writing it. Peter’s concern was clearly not to answer the question whether predestination is true or not, but to explain why the Lord’s return has, in the view of deliberate sinners and lustful scoffers, been so long in coming. The passage is not intended to teach the sinner’s autonomy [if God is not the sovereign planner and controller of all events, that is where we are left] and God’s ineffectual wish to save sinners who just won’t let him, but to teach that God is merciful and long-suffering, giving the most hardened sinner opportunity to repent. It is God’s expressed will that sinners repent. Since he is holy, he cannot but wish that all his creatures be holy as well. This says nothing about whether he has decreed the salvation of some and not others. That is a totally separate issue.

09
Apr
14

Comments on Dohse’s Delusions

I never cease to be amazed by the abysmal ignorance of many who fancy themselves fountains of all wisdom and knowledge. Paul Dohse Sr. recently posted an article that he titled “the Foul Points of Calvinism.” It brings to light once again the startling fact that those who, in their arrogance, argue against these doctrines are, in reality, mind numbingly ignorant. Mr. Dohse’s article reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from C.H. Spurgeon. In a sermon titled, “How to Meet the Doctrine of Election,” he said,

The doctrine of election has been made into a great bugbear by its unscrupulous opponents and its injudicious friends. I have read some very wonderful sermons against this doctrine in which the first thing that was evident was that the person speaking was totally ignorant of his subject. The usual way of composing a sermon against the doctrine of grace is this: first exaggerate and belie the doctrine, and then argue against it. If you state the sublime truth as it is found in the Bible, why, you cannot say much against it. But if you collect a number of silly expressions from hot-headed partisans and denounce these, then your task will be easier. Nobody ever believed the doctrine of election as I have heard it stated by Arminian controversialists. I venture to say that nobody out of Bedlam ever did believe that which has been imputed to us. Is it surprising that we are as eager to denounce the dogmas imputed to us as ever our opponents can be? Why do they earnestly set themselves to confute what no one defends? Our friends abhor the doctrine as it is stated by themselves, and we are much of their mind, though the doctrine itself, as we would state it, is dear to us as life itself.

I would like to reproduce the text of Mr. Dohse’s remarks and intersperse comments of my own about what he has written. My comments will appear in bold font.

Mr. Dohse wrote:

1. Total Depravity

As written about often here at PPT, the Calvinist view of total depravity also pertains to the saints. However, total depravity isn’t even true in regard to the unregenerate. All born into the world have the works of the law written on their hearts with a conscience that either accuses or excuses their behavior. Romans 6:20 states that unbelievers are free in regard to righteousness. Total depravity posits the idea that mankind cannot do any work that falls short of condemnation. Works for justification are not the issue entirely; if man can do any good work, one of those good works could be choosing God which Calvinism rejects. Hence, the doctrine of total depravity is essential for them.

In my view, Pastor Tchividijan should simply have used the term “remaining sin.” I have written about this matter on my blog. I believe he is correct in stating that every facet of the human personality continues to be affected by sin. If that is all a person means by the term “total depravity,” I would have to agree that believers continue to be totally depraved. If defined as I have done in the following definition, then it is inaccurate to refer to believers as “totally depraved.”

Perhaps I can best define what I mean by total depravity by first stating the negative.
By “total depravity” I do not mean:

1. Sinners act as badly as they are capable of acting.
2. Sinners are incapable of deeds that are good in the sight of other people.
3. Sinners are incapable of rational thought.
4. Sinners are incapable of recognizing the logical relationship between cause and effect and design and designer.
5. Sinners have no consciousness of the existence of God and their guilt before him.
6. Sinners have no ability to understand the facts of the gospel and give mental assent to it.
7. Sin has totally destroyed God’s image in the unregenerate.
8. Sinners are incapable of acting morally. Not every unregenerate sinner is perverted and degenerate.
9. Sinners have no ability to make choices.
10. Sinners do not have a knowledge of right and wrong, based on God’s law written on their hearts.
11. Sinners are not completely free to choose anything they wish. If they wish to choose to leave their sins and follow Christ, they are completely free to do so.

By “total depravity” I mean:

1. The nature of every person, in Adam, has been radically affected by the fall so that every person is, at heart, equal to every other person in estrangement from God. If one sinner acts better than another it is due to God’s common, restraining grace alone.

2. Sinful nature has radically affected every facet of the sinner’s personality. The result is that he does not think rightly about God and the gospel; he does not feel right emotions toward God and the gospel; and he does not make right choices with reference to God and the gospel. Every facet of the sinner’s personality is controlled by sinful nature.

3. Though sinners are capable of understanding the facts of the gospel, they regard it as foolish and weak. They may know truth but do not welcome it (1 Cor. 2:14). They do not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).

4. Sinners are hostile toward God and the gospel. Whenever they are confronted with God’s self-revelation their response will always be to suppress it and turn from it. Sinners love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil and everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed (John 3: 19-20). A person will never choose that for which he has no desire and to which he is totally averse.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the way Calvinists have consistently defined “total depravity.” Accordingly, most Calvinists would not refer to believers as “totally depraved.” What I would agree with is the idea that believers in a regenerate state have no ability to progress in sanctification independently. If God’s Spirit does not continue to prompt our desire to obey God and enable us to do so, we can do nothing.

You will notice that nothing in my statement denies that sinners have God’s law written on their hearts. Nothing in it denies that unbelievers are free in regard to righteousness. Commenting on Romans 6:20, Douglas Moo made the following helpful comment,

. . .They are free from the power and influence of conduct that pleases God; they are deaf to God’s righteous demands and incapable of responding to them even if they were to hear and respect them. For Paul makes clear that those outside Christ, to varying degrees, can recognize right and wrong (Cf. Rom. 1:18-32; 2:14-15); but the power to do the right and turn from the wrong is not present (Moo, Romans, p. 422).

The real issue in regard to the “goodness” of the sinner’s works is not whether it is possible for unregenerate people to live in a moral and upright manner or whether they may perform deeds that are good and profitable in the sight of other people. No one disagrees that the unregenerate may be involved in eleemosynary projects that bring great acclaim to themselves and great benefit to mankind. Additionally, it is not an issue of whether it is better for sinners to live in a moral manner rather than in an immoral manner.

The issue is whether the unregenerate have any desire to please to God by submitting themselves to his method of justifying sinners. Additionally, the question of the “goodness” of the sinner’s works may not be determined in the court of public opinion but must be determined by the divine tribunal. God’s verdict is “there is none who does good, not even one.”

2. Unconditional Election

This is not exactly right either, though less egregious than the other four points. God does choose according to some conditions and for His purposes. One example is God’s choosing of the poor and un-noble so that he will get the credit for the power He displays through them (1Cor 1:26-29). His specific purpose for this is to shame the “wise” and the “strong.” He elected Israel because they are the smallest of nations (Due 7:7). The condition is smallness.

Most Calvinists do not believe God’s choice of certain sinners was made without reason. Still, the fact that God has chosen the poor and ignoble of the world does not mean poverty and meanness of life circumstances were the bases or conditions of God’s choice. If that were the case, there would be no rich or high-born believers. God did not choose Israel for its smallness but in spite of it.

When we talk about “unconditional” election, we mean that God’s choice of certain sinners was not conditioned on his foresight of our faith or final perseverance.

3. Limited Atonement

Christ clearly died for all people. The word used in John 3:16 is “kosmos.” “God so loved the world….” I believe this word was used deliberately to circumvent the idea that Christ died for “all kinds of men” and not ALL men

The real issue in respect to so-called “limited atonement” is not so much for whom Christ died as it is the effectual nature of Christ’s redemptive work. Here is the issue– If Jesus died for every single individual since the beginning of time, what did he accomplish for them? The issue was never sufficiency. Calvinists believe Christ’s death was of sufficient value to redeem everyone if they should believe the gospel. The issue is that Christ accomplished [actually secured] eternal redemption for all his chosen people.

To cite John 3:16 as a proof-text is just silly. Biblical writers seldom used the word “kosmos” to refer to every single individual on the face of the earth. In Romans 11, Paul used the word of the Gentiles in contrast to the people of Israel. In this particular case (John 3:16), it more than likely referred to believers from among the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The point is that Jesus did not come to redeem Israel and condemn the world, i.e., Gentiles. God loved the world–Jews and Gentiles alike. It is also likely John had in mind the evil and rebellious character of the objects of Gods love. In using the word “kosmos,” he meant to emphasize God’s inestimable condescension in setting his love on his enemies and demonstrating that love by sending his uniquely begotten to die for sinners.

Additionally, in this verse, the stated purpose for God’s sending his Son is that everyone who believes will have everlasting life. The text says absolutely nothing about God’s desire to save everyone without exception. God sent his Son to save believers. Robert Haldane wrote, “It is the good news that Jesus died for the most guilty sinner who will believe, not that he died for every sinner whether he will believe or not.”

My point is that it would require much more than the citation of a few proof-texts to demonstrate Mr. Dohse’s contention. One must answer the question, “What did Jesus accomplish for those for whom he died?”

4. Irresistible Grace

Man can resist the Holy Spirit. The Bible is clear on this: Acts 7:51, John 16:8, John 12:32.

No one questions whether the Holy Spirit can be resisted. The issue is that the Holy Spirit is ALWAYS resisted (See Acts 7:51) until God the Father calls sinners effectually and the Spirit grants them new life.

5. Perseverance of the Saints

Calvin taught a three-fold election: non-elect, temporary elect (those who lose their election, the “called”), and the final elect, or those who persevere to the end (chosen). In an effort to proof text this error, “perseverance” is always associated with salvation, and rewards are not considered. At any rate, it is clear that believers do not always persevere (1Cor 5:4,5).

The issue is not what Calvin taught or did not teach. There are several areas in which those who believe the doctrines of grace have departed from Calvin’s teachings and writings. The issue is what the Bible teaches. I can find no evidence of Mr. Dohse’s claim that Calvin taught “a three-fold election.” What Calvinists consistently teach is that those who fail to persevere in faith give evidence they were never true believers. One of Mr. Dohse’s errors seems to stem from his failure to understand the nature of saving faith.

For a fuller treatment of the topic of perseverance, I would refer you to my post, “The Calvinists’ Doctrine of Perseverance.”

15
Mar
14

The Authority of the Scriptures

The term, “Bible Thumper” has been used in a pejorative way of those who appeal to the Bible as their authority. Admittedly, there are times when such persons have done so by taking proof-texts out of context and using them for a pretext, but at least they understood we are to appeal to the Scriptures as our final authority in matters of belief and practice.

I was recently accused on another blog site of saying we don’t need the Holy Spirit to lead us because we have the Scriptures. The same person said I was placing the Scriptures above God’s authority and was in danger of “bibliolatry.” Of course, I am not suggesting that the Scriptures have an authority that is not God’s authority, or that we do not need the Spirit to guide us by illuminating the Scriptures. What I am saying is that the Scriptures are God’s revelation of his authoritative standard for all we believe and do.

To seek to discuss issues of doctrine or ethics with a person who does not accept the inspiration, inerrancy and trustworthiness of the Scriptures will always prove to be a futile endeavor. I am not suggesting we can claim inerrancy for our interpretations. We may differ in what we believe the authoritative standard prescribes, but we must agree the Bible is our sole standard and final authority.

Jesus tells us we are truly his disciples if we continue in his Word. It is important for us to understand his Word extends not only to his personal utterances but also to his Word spoken through apostles to whom he had granted authority to write the New Testament Scriptures. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 14:37,”If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” Red letter editions of the Bible send a wrong message. They give the impression that the words Jesus spoke carry more weight than the other words of Scripture. The reality is though every verse of Scripture may not be equally important, every word of Scripture is equally inspired by God. Christians are responsible to believe and practice all that is taught or commanded in the New Testament Scriptures, but we must reject every teaching or practice that has no biblical authority or precedent.

I recently wrote an article titled “Evangelistic Drivel,” in which I listed several phrases that are used in modern evangelism but that are never found in the biblical record. It had been my hope that readers would have responded by examining the Scriptures to see if these popular phrases bore even a faint resemblance to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Instead, I fear many have opted to continue in their comfortable paths because it would just require too much effort to develop a biblical pattern of evangelism. Additionally, why should we change our message and methods if we are getting countable results from what we have been doing? Pragmatism [If it works it must be right] trumps Scripture again.

There are certain thoughts that should never enter a believer’s mind, much less pass his lips. We should never think or say:

1. I know what the Bible says, but . . . .

2. It must be right because it gets results.

3. I see what the Bible says, but it just doesn’t feel good to me.

4. I know the Bible doesn’t teach it, but this is the way we have always done it.

5. I can’t cite any biblical passage to support what I believe, but this is what I have always been taught.

It is time for believers diligently to examine our beliefs and practices in the light of God’s authoritative standard and conform ourselves to that standard. “Paul wrote, “Put everything to the test, hold tightly to that which is good.”

25
Feb
14

The False Doctrine of Paul Dohse Sr.

People often visit my blog searching for information about the false teaching of Paul Dohse Sr. I suspect this occurs because I wrote a review a couple of years ago about a book he had written. Unfortunately, he and I have almost nothing in common theologically, and he is convinced I am a psychopathic liar who uses doublespeak to deliberately deceive people. He clearly thinks he knows better what I believe than I do and is convinced I am lying when I state my views as honestly as I can. He has recently threatened to “come after me,” whatever that means, if I ever email him or post on his blog again. Apparently, he feels he has the right to misrepresent Calvinists’ views and spew his vitriol against us without anyone questioning His Majesty. I am now banned from commenting on his blog because in response to his accusation that “Calvinists have redefined every term in the Bible”, I asked him to give me an example of a doctrine we have redefined. I also asked him to send me the authentic and authoritative list of official definitions of biblical terms so that I could see how our definitions have departed from the official list.

I was reading one of his latest posts today, “The Law and Why Calvinists are in Danger of Hell.” As I read through it, it occurred to me he hardly made a single statement I did not believe was erroneous. It would require a tome of no small magnitude even to begin to address all Mr. Dohse’s errors. Still, I thought it might be helpful to address a few of his statements in an effort to help some of those who are mystified by his enigmatic statements.

I must confess I still don’t understand what he is referring to when he states that Calvinists believe “the active obedience of Christ is imputed to a believer’s sanctification to maintain his justification.” I have asked him to explain that statement several times but he has never answered. Perhaps one of his fawning followers can drop by and explain it to us.

1. He fails to understand that nomos [law] has different meanings in Scripture. “The law of faith,” for example, does not refer to a governing standard but to a principle. Sinners are not declared right with God based on the law of works, i.e., the principle of works, “Do this and live,” but according to the principle of faith. From this error flows his neonomian error mentioned below. Believers are not saved by faith; we are saved by Christ, through faith.

Additionally, there are times nomos refers to God’s eternal righteous standard. At times, it refers to the Pentateuch. Sometimes it refers to the Old Testament Scriptures and perhaps most often it refers to the Old Covenant. Mr. Dohse’s failure to recognize properly how this term has been used causes him to make many unfortunate and fallacious statements

2. He fails to understand that “under law” in the New Testament Scriptures is a covenantal designation, not an existential one. By this I mean it refers to Israel’s period of tutelage under the old covenant, not the state of an unbeliever as opposed to the condition of a believer. He wrote, “

There are many, many, many problems with this view [that Jesus fulfilled the in the believer's place] biblically, but primarily, it keeps believers, “under the law” and NOT “under grace.” These are the ONLY two categories in the Bible that distinguishes the lost from the saved. Calvinism categorizes “believers” as lost people.

If Mr. Dohse is right, Jesus was born a lost person since Paul wrote to the Galatians that he was born of woman and born “under the law.” Additionally, there are several distinguishing categories in the Bible that distinguish the lost from the saved such as “in the flesh,” “fleshly/soulish” as opposed to “in the Spirit,” “spiritual.” Also, “perishing” as opposed to “being saved.”

3. What Mr. Dohse is articulating, though he does so inarticulately, is the doctrine of neonomianism. He writes, “No fulfilling of the law for justification was needed. We are justified by the “law of faith.” Think about it, has Christ ever needed faith? Only we need faith, not Christ. Christ didn’t fulfil [sic] any law for our justification, that law, in justification, is replaced with the law of faith because there is NO law in justification.”

William Styles defines neonomianism as,

A schemed of Divinity propounded by Daniel Williams, D.D., which held that God has receded from the demands of the Moral Law, and given up its original obligations—and that the Gospel is a New Law, but of milder requirements, in which Faith, Repentance, and sincere though imperfect Obedience, are substituted in the room of the perfect and perpetual Obedience required by the original Law. (William Styles, A Manual of Faith and Practice).

In answer to Dohse’s question, “. . .has Christ ever needed faith?” The answer is a resounding YES! His entire life on earth was one of absolute dependence on his Father.

4. Mr. Dohse states “it is the righteousness of God the Father that is imputed to us.” He rejects the idea that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers. The question is, where do the New Testament writers ever state that it is the righteousness of God the Father that is imputed to believers? There is no question but that God’s attribute of righteousness is resplendently displayed in the divine scheme of justification. His righteousness is revealed in the gospel, apart from the law. Paul here speaks of the revelation of God’s righteousness, not the manner in which he has established that righteousness in Christ.

When Paul used the phrase “the righteousness of God” in his Epistle to the Romans, he referred to God’s method of justification in accordance with his covenant faithfulness. This divine method involved the fulfillment, in Christ, of all his righteous demands and the satisfaction of his holy wrath against sinners. Paul’s use of the phrase “the righteousness of God” in Rom. 10:3, helps us understand how he used the phrase elsewhere. He wrote, “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” Certainly, the Jewish people were not ignorant of God’s attribute of righteousness. In chapter two, the apostle had told us that they know his will having been instructed out of the law. The problem was they were ignorant of God’s method of justification, namely, Christ, the goal of the law for righteousness, because they were pursuing their own method of justification. The focus of the law was not law but Christ. “The righteousness of God” revealed in the gospel is a righteousness that God has wrought in his covenant faithfulness and therefore a righteousness that God approves. The law could reveal how holy and righteous God is, but only the gospel reveals how he can be righteous and at the same time declare believing sinners righteous. Faith does not replace the righteousness God demanded in the law; faith lays hold of the righteousness demanded by the law.

5. He is in error when he states that sin does not exist where there is no law. He thinks this explains why believers cannot be condemned. He does not believe the law has been fulfilled. He believes it has been voided by the death of Christ’s death. He writes,

Though the Bible continually states that the law has been voided in regard to our justification [he makes no effort to reveal where he thinks the Bible says that] , Calvinism insists the following: It’s voided because Christ fulfilled it. This is why Calvinists are constantly referring to the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us, but the Bible doesn’t say that—it states that the righteousness of God the Father was imputed to us [see above]. Christ’s death put an end to the law, not His perfect obedience. The imputation of Christ’s obedience to sanctification to keep us justified is a “relaxing” of the law, and Christ sternly warned against that [Only God knows what he means by this last statement].

Then, he argues that since the law has been voided for justification, sin does not exist and the believer cannot be condemned. The problem with this view is that Paul did not write that sin did not exist where law did not exist. In fact, he wrote just the opposite in Romans 5:13—“but before the Law, sin was in the world. . .” What Paul wrote was “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15). Transgression is not a mere missing of the mark, but an overstepping of a clearly defined boundary such as that delineated by codified law.

There can be no question in the mind of any serious student of the New Testament Scriptures that believers can still sin or that his sins require the perpetual efficacy of Christ’s redeeming work to forgive them. John wrote, “and if any man should sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” Those sins require forgiveness if our communion with God is to be maintained and he faithfully and righteously grants such forgiveness based on the redeeming work of Christ.

We who believe the historic doctrines of grace do not believe we must be justified again every time we sin, nor do we believe we make progress in justification or must maintain our right standing before God. We do believe in the perpetual efficacy of Christ’s redemptive work.

It seems to me Mr. Dohse believes faith is a onetime act and that the Christian no longer needs Christ for justification once he has had his ticket punched. He writes, “Justification is a done deal.” He does not believe we any longer need Jesus to maintain our right standing before God. There is no need for us to continue believing. All we must do now is “learn and do,” and apparently he believes we can do this without divine assistance. This obedience simply results from regeneration.

In our view, we stand justified before God because Jesus, the crucified, risen, and enthroned Savior, appears in God’s presence for us. In his view, justification is behind us and we no longer need Jesus as our redeemer. If this is not what he believes, he is certainly welcome to come here to correct the misrepresentation.

We agree that justification is a done deal in the sense that a believer is never any more righteous in God’s sight than he is the moment he first believes, but it is not a done deal in the sense that we have moved beyond our need for Christ’s justifying righteousness. I think one of the difference between our views is that we see faith as a continuing dependence on Christ, not a onetime decision as he seems to believe. We believe through faith we have bold access into God’s presence because Jesus now appears in God’s presence for us. What Mr. Dohse believes about approaching God is anyone’s guess.

18
Feb
14

Evangelistic Drivel

The following are statements often used in modern evangelism that are nowhere found in the preaching of Jesus and the apostles. Most of them have entered the evangelical vocabulary through a theologically and biblically vacuous hymnology and not from a careful study of the New Testament record.

Let Jesus come into your heart.

Give Jesus your heart.

Open your heart, and let Jesus come in.

Pray to receive Jesus.

Decide for Jesus.

Jesus died for you.

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Smile, God loves you.

God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.

God can’t save you unless you let him.

Why do people continue to employ such banal jargon in their “evangelism?” I suspect it is because they are too lazy to study the Scriptures in an effort to discover the apostolic pattern. After all, it is far too easy to get decisions when sinners don’t understand the real issues.

I challenge you to examine the history of early evangelism in the Gospels and Acts and emulate the pattern of apostolic preaching. If nothing more, begin by reading just one chapter a day. It might just change your life.

16
Feb
14

The House of Israel and The House of Judah– With whom does God make the new covenant?

In Jeremiah 31:31, the prophet tells his readers God will make a new covenant with “the house of Israel” [the ten northern tribes] and “the house of Judah” [the southern tribes] for the following reasons:

1. Because these two houses together comprised the entire special natural seed of Abraham to whom God had promised blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant. Yet, God does not establish it with the houses of Israel and Judah as such any more than he establishes it with Gentiles as such. The promise is effective “to as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). Also, Hebrews 9:15 says, “And for this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” When we remember that God calls believers according to His eternal purpose and grace, it becomes clear that He has made this promise to the elect within Israel. Those who are brought to faith in God’s anointed through the establishment of the new covenant will never “cease from being a nation before the Lord forever” (Jer 31:36).

2. Because the blessings of the new covenant extend to the most guilty who believe God’s promise. In this case, God promises to forgive even apostate Israel for playing the whore with pagan gods.

3. Because the northern ten tribes of Israel had become alienated from Jehovah because of their idolatry. In effect, they had, through their defection from Jehovah, become pagans. For this reason, they stand as a type of the Gentile nations who were alienated from Jehovah and His covenant promises. God’s promise to establish the new covenant with Israel and Judah is a foreshadowing of His reconciliation of Gentiles and visiting them to take out of them a people for his name. This seems to accord with Paul’s citation of Hosea 2:23; 1:10 in Romans 9:25-26, in confirmation of the call of the Gentiles. He wrote,

23 And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.25As He says also in Hosea, “I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, “MY PEOPLE,” AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, “BELOVED.”“ 26″AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, “YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,” THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD.

It seems clear that in their original Old Testament context, these verses had reference to the northern ten tribes of Israel. Yet, it seems equally evident that Paul uses these verses to refer not to the restoration of apostate Israelites, but to the calling of Gentiles to faith in Christ. Concerning the seeming discrepancy, John Murray wrote,

There might appear to be a discrepancy between the purport and reference of these passages in the prophecy and as applied by Paul. In Hosea they refer to ten tribes of Israel and not to the Gentile nations. There should be no difficulty. Paul recognizes that the rejection and restoration of Israel of which Hosea spoke have their parallel in the exclusion of the Gentiles from God’s covenant favor and their reception into that favor. . . .the same procedure is exemplified in both cases and Paul finds in the restoration of Israel to love and favor the type in terms of which the Gentlies become partakers of the same grace [emphases mine].(Murray, Romans, p. 38).

Even James Stifler, a Dispensationalist, has commented, “The prophecy originally seems to refer to the ten tribes, but as they had been excluded from the nation and were practically heathen, Paul refers to them as a type of the call of the Gentiles.” (Stifler, Romans, p. 169).

Clearly it is legitimate to recognize apostate and reconciled Israel as a type of apostate and reconciled Gentiles [part of the Christian church]. It is also obvious that this is a passage that, in its OT context, plainly refers to the nation of Israel. Since it is legitimate to find in this passage a type of the ingathering of the Gentiles, there is no reason why we should not understand such passages as Jeremiah 31:31-34 in the same way.

4. Because He wanted to show that the fulfillment of the new covenant would bring unity between those who, formerly, had been bitter enemies (Eph. 2:14-15). The northern ten tribes, the house of Israel, had, by their apostasy from Jehovah, essentially become pagans. Using circumstances in the life of the prophet Hosea, God illustrated what His relationship with Israel had become because of their idolatry.

And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; And it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God (Hosea 1:9-10).

5. Because Israel and Judah were the parties that had broken covenant with God. It is within the redemptive-historical context of Israel that the covenant must be kept. It was in the very place where the trespass had overflowed that grace overflowed all the more. Paul wrote, “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”(Rom. 5:20). It was against the backdrop of the broken covenant that Jesus established the new covenant by making redemption for the transgressions that were under the first covenant. It was because Israel was under the curse of the law that the Messiah became a curse. He established the new covenant by fulfilling the old covenant. Thus, it was necessary that the drama of redemption be played out on the stage of Israel’s national covenant.

There is a temporal priority in God’s dealings with the Jews and their situation under the law. Unless the demands of the law were met, there could be no free bestowal of blessings on either believing Jews or believing Gentiles. Thus, Paul tells us that, “. . .when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law [the Jews], that we [Jews and Gentiles alike] might receive the adoption as sons [son-placing]” (Gal: 4:4-5).

Paul also presents this truth plainly in Galatians 3:13-14 where he writes, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” In the Greek text, the words, “that on the Gentiles the blessing of Abraham might come in Christ” are in the emphatic position and are juxtaposed to the clause that describes the work of Christ in which he was made a curse for those who were under the law, i. e., Israel under the old covenant.

One of the keys to understanding that God has already established the new covenant with Israel, i.e., the true, elect Israel within the nation, is to understand the nature of biblical covenants. We have considered this issue in some detail in the body of this work [reference to a commentary I am writing on Hebrews]. Some Dispensationalists have spoken about the nation of Israel’s need to ratify the new covenant by their acceptance of it at Jesus’ return. The implication is that this covenant cannot be in force until the nation of Israel, as a whole, accepts it as their covenant. It is important for us to remember that biblical covenants were not bilateral but unilateral. Though faith is essential if anyone is to enjoy the blessings of the new covenant, the ratification of the covenant is not dependent on anyone’s acceptance. Jesus ratified the new covenant at the cross. Thus, the New Testament Scripture focuses on Christ’s accomplishments at His first coming, not on the application of those accomplishments at His second coming.

6. Because Abraham’s special natural seed (Isaac and his posterity) stand as a type of the new covenant people of God, elect Jews and Gentiles. It seems clear from the New Testament Scriptures that God has established this covenant with all in Christ. We must remember that Christ was in every sense an Israelite. In fact, he was the only Israelite who was faithful to the covenant. He, and thus all who are united to him through faith are the true (as opposed to the typical) Israel of God. Consider his statement “I am the true” (John 15:1) in contrast to natural Israel (e.g. Isaiah 5). If this is the case, then this was God’s intention from the beginning in making His promises to Israel.

Much of the language of the Old Testament Scriptures should be understood in terms of typology, not in a strictly literal sense. God fulfilled many of these promises in a literal sense, but these fulfillments, for example, Israel’s return to the land after the Babylonian captivity, which stood as types of a further fulfillment in Christ, were always inferior to the ultimate fulfillment.

7. Because the blessings of the new covenant were first offered to ethnic Israelites and were first welcomed by them.

These blessings were first offered to ethnic Israelites:

“It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, “AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.” “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways” (Acts 3: 25-26).

And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16).

The first citizens of this new nation to welcome these new covenant blessings were ethnic Israelites:

In Matthew 21:42-3, Jesus cited a prophecy from Psalm 118 concerning a stone that the builders had rejected becoming the chief corner stone. He then informed them that because they had rejected Him, God would take the kingdom from them and give it to a nation that would produce the fruit that the husbandman was seeking.

Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES”? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.” (Matthew 21:42-3).

What is the identity of this nation about whom Jesus spoke?

Was He speaking about a restored Israel that, after His second coming, would finally fulfill the purposes for which God had chosen it? The Apostle Peter, in his first epistle, plainly identified the nation to which Jesus referred when he spoke of a nation bring forth the fruit of God’s kingdom. He wrote,

2:6For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 2:7This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 2:8and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 2:9But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 2:10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY (1 Pet 2:6-10).

When did God establish this new nation?

Remembering Jesus’ words, “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit,” the disciples asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). Based on Old Testament prophecy, they had every reason to believe that such a restoration was to occur. If they were mistaken, it was because they though there was to be a retrogression to a kingdom that would be restored within the confines of Judaism. J.A. Alexander wrote, “. . .they were only mistaken, if at all, in expecting it to be restored in its primeval form.” (Alexander, Acts, p. 10). Since they had been taught to associate the coming of the Spirit with the inauguration of the kingdom, it seems likely that the question they asked was linked with His promise about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In other words, they were asking, “will you restore the kingdom to Israel when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit?” Though Jesus did not directly answer the question they had asked, he plainly revealed the answer to them when the day of Pentecost fully came. As Luke records,

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:

Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “”In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:14-20).

Peter was not suggesting that everything that Joel prophesied had already transpired or was going to occur immediately. Instead, he was proclaiming the good news that the long awaited and earnestly anticipated time of fulfillment had finally come. In sending His Son to accomplish the redemption and reconciliation of His elect people, God had “remembered his holy covenant” (Luke 1:72). All that now remains is the full application of those redemptive accomplishments by which Jesus ratified the new covenant for His people.

If there are any “land promises” that have not yet been fulfilled, they find fulfillment two ways. 1. God’s New Covenant people now enjoy these blessings, in an antitypical sense, in the inheritance we now have through faith, because of our union with Christ. 2. God will fulfill such promises in the eternal kingdom when believers enjoy their full inheritance, including the new earth.




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