Archive for February, 2014

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.

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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.