Ancient Christian Polity

At Christ Covenant Church, we strive to possess the ancient Christian Faith of Jesus and the apostles. And that includes in the area of church polity (i.e., the operational model or governing structure established by God for His church). Hardly a simple task, this puzzle has alluded many throughout church history (including our pastor for almost twenty-two years). Hence the reason there exists at least seven models: 1) Presbyterian 2) Presbyterian w/a synod, 3) Plurality of elders, 4) Plurality of elders w/congregational affirmation, 5) Congregational, 6) Congregational w/pastors, 7) Episcopal, 8) Episcopal w/connexion. Continued study of Scripture and history, however, has allowed our pastor to finally put all the pieces of this important puzzle in their proper place. Said differently, to see the model presented in Scripture that alleviates all the problems created by the previous models adopted by our church. That model is also the oldest and first in church history. As such we can be confident that it was the polity of the first Christian churches. It is the episcopal model – or ancient Christian polity of Jesus, priests and deacons (JPD).

1. Jesus is our High Priest, Prophet and King.

1.1. The term “messiah” (or “christ” in the Greek) means “anointed one” and referred those who had received the (Holy) Spirit of authority for the purpose of salvation and judgment in relation to right doctrine and direction for the covenant community. This anointing (or ordination[1]) was limited to three offices: priest, prophet and king (priests – Exo 28:29-30; Lev 10:10-11, 17; Exo 40:12-15 w/Psa 132:16; Mal 3:6-7; prophets – Psa 105:15; kings – [1Sa 16:1,13; 2Ki 9:1-3] w/1Sa 24:6 and 2Sa 1:14-16; also 1Ch 11:1-3; With respect to it being limited, see Num 11:29).

1.2. Jesus became the first (and last) Person to combine all three offices in their superlative and divine form. He is the Christ: our Heavenly High-Priest, God’s Final Prophet and Divine Davidic King (or King of kings) (Mat 3:16-17: 1] as Heavenly High Priest – Heb 3:1, 4:14, 8:1-2; 2] as Final Prophet – Deu 18:15, 18-19 w/Joh 5:46 and Act 3:22-23 w/Heb 1:1-12; also Mat 21:11; 3] as Davidic King – Isa 11:1, 10; Psa 2:2, 45:1-7, 110:1 and 2Sa 7:12-13 w/Mat 1:1, 21:1-9; Rom 1:3; 2Ti 1:8; Heb 1:8-9 and Rev 11:15).

1.3. What all of this means for Christ Covenant Church from a church polity/government perspective: Jesus is our highest authority, the final “Word” in all things, the One for whom we exist (Joh 1:1-4; Col 1:16). Hence the reason we proclaim at the end of every service, “All for King Jesus!”

2. Priests are our ordained pastors (elders/overseers [Grk., episkopei = Bishop[2]]).

2.1. God promises to re-establish the offices of priest and Levite for the new covenant community (Isa 66:18 w/21).

2.2. As discussed, priests are an anointed/ordained office or the office possessing God’s special spirit of authority for the purpose of salvation, and judgment in relation to justice, doctrine and direction for the covenant community. Given the identification and requirements of elders/overseers/pastors[3]/pastor-teachers (1Ti 3:1; Tit 1:5; Eph 4:113), they represent the new covenant community’s priests. Hence the reason they are:

2.2.1. said to possess authority (1Co 5:4; 2Co 10:3-8, 13:10; Tit 2:15)

2.2.2. anointed/ordained (2Co 1:21; Tit 1:5 w/Heb 8:3 “appointed” = anointed; Act 14:23 “appointed” = Different word than Tit 1:5 but same idea is being communicated as confirmed by texts like Heb 8:3 [“appointed” – same word and subject as Act 14:23)

2.2.3. required to demonstrate competency in teaching (1Ti 3:2 w/Tit 1:5 w/7 w/9 [notice he calls the elders, “overseer”]). Hence why they are called “pastor-teachers” (again, Eph 4:11). Hence why also, those seeking to be ordained were often commissioned to assist and be trained by those already ordained (e.g., Joshua – Num 11:28; Timothy – Act 16:1-3).

2.2.4. deputized by Jesus (through their ordination/anointing/receiving of the Holy Spirit of authority) not only for judgment in relation to justice, right doctrine and direction, but also to extend or withhold His forgiveness/justification/salvation (Mat 16:17-19; Joh 20:21-23; 2Co 3:1-6; Heb 13:17).

2.3. As additional support: 1) Paul identifies himself as a “priest” (Rom 15:15-16), 2) Jesus provides the same support/backing to the judgments and decisions of new covenant elders as those given to old covenant priests (Mat 16:17-19 w/18:17-20 w/Deu 17:9-13; in this respect consider also Num 15:30-31 w/Mat 12:22-32), 3) James speaks of new covenant elders (Jam 5:14-18) in the same way that Josephus speaks of old covenant priests,“[The priest] it is that must put up prayers for you to God, who will readily hear them, because God will receive them as offered by one that he hath himself chosen to this office.” (Antiquities of the Jews)

2.4. If then, ordained pastors are the promised priests of the new covenant community, then it is only reasonable that they (like their old covenant counterparts) would also wear special garments associated w/their anointing/ordination (Exo 29:29). Hence the reason for the long legacy of vestments in church history.

2.5. Their ordination typically happens through the recognition of an existing body of professing believers and the laying on of hands by existing ordained men (1Ti 4:14, 5:22; 2Ti 1:6-7; Act 6:1-6, 8:14-19, 9:15-18 [laying on of hands precedes Paul’s baptism for the HS] w/Gal 1:1, 15 and 2:9 = Paul equates his encounter w/Ananias [likely the ordained pastor at Damascus] w/his ordination as a apostle).

2.6. Last but not least, those serving as new covenant priests (or ordained elders/overseers/pastors): 1) must be men who meet the character qualifications in (1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9 = Both of these passages assume the possession of the right gospel – especially Tit 1:9 “sound doctrine” since this is the prerequisite to the existence of a Christian church, the HS’ empowerment and Christ’s backing of that pastor)[4], 2) will be judged more strictly by God – most especially in what they say and so must become masters over their tongues (Jam 3:1-2), 3) are destined for a great heavenly reward if they are faithful (1Pe 5:1-4; Rev 4:4 = Elders are the one’s possessing a king’s crown – See 2Ti 4:8).

 

2.7. What all of this means for Christ Covenant Church from a church polity/government perspective: 1) never will there be women pastors/elders 2) never should there be elders/pastors who are not ordained/anointed, 3) those who “aspire” (1Ti 3:1) to be elders/overseers/pastors – i.e., new covenant priests are seeking a good thing and must be trained so that they can be ordained/anointed, 4) the new covenant priest is second in authority to Jesus and therefore possessing His support/backing when making judgments/decisions on justice, doctrine or direction for the church – even when wrong on issues (other than the gospel) due to ignorance. (Consider Deu 17:9-13 w/Lev 4:22ff = Due to ignorance, leaders can sin/be wrong in their judgments. Such fallibility does not mean obedience to their judgments is optional or will be excused by God. Hence Paul’s response in Act 23:5 and his instruction in Rom 13:5). 5) Until others are ordained, pastor Scott is the only one who should be addressed this way (“pastor”).

3. Levites are our deacons and judicial council (or JUDCO)[5].

3.1. As discussed, Levites were also promised to the new covenant community. Their office is realized in the role of deacons who like them are:

3.1.1. to submit to and protect their priests/ordained pastors (their person and personal integrity) – as well as God’s house (Num 1:53 w/3:10, 18:3-4, 7; 1Ch 9:14-27; Act 23:1-5 [man who struck Paul was most likely a Levite guard]; 1Ti 5:19 [“elder” = ordained/anointed pastor]w/Exo 22:28 [applied to all rulers including priests as demonstrated by Paul’s violation w/Ananias]; 1Pe 5:5; e.g., O-line protecting their QB).

3.1.2. deputized by the priests/ordained pastors w/a portion of the Spirit/spiritual authority (Num 8:9-10 “lay their hands” = Deputize w/authority versus anoint/ordain w/ authority)[6] to help their priests/ordained pastors w/:

3.1.2.1. the sacrifices (i.e., the Lords Table) (Num 18:2-7 w/2Ch 29:34, 35:10-12) = The sacrifices (“the obligations of the tent of meeting”): 1) can only to handled by the sons of Levi (priests and Levites). Outsiders are not allowed to “come near”, 2) the Levites role ends outside the veil – i.e., they can prepare and distribute the sacrifice but cannot make it (i.e., make atonement for the people).[7]

3.1.2.2. the offerings (e.g., counting the offerings, seeing that the monies are used properly) (1Ch 26:20; 2Ch 31:14).

3.1.2.3. determining justice, right doctrine and direction for the covenant community (e.g., JUDCO) (1Ch 26:29; Neh 8:7-9).

3.1.2.4. worship (e.g., the worship leader sb a deacon) (1Ch 6:1 w/31-33, 16:4, 25:1-3).

3.2. Given Paul and Law’s prohibition against women serving as judges – or determining justice/equity, right doctrine and direction of the covenant community (See 1Co 14:34 w/Deu 19:21) – and the fact that this is the majority and most important portion of the deacon’s role, the office of deacon (like its former iteration) also remains open only to men. Though there a women ministers [women who minister in the church – e.g., Phoebe – Rom 16:1, Euodia and Syntyche – Phi 4:2], there are no women deacons [women in offices of spiritual authority]).

3.3. In keeping with their predecessors there should exist for the new covenant Levite or deacon: 1) a “head” (or high) Levite/deacon who was responsible for managing the others (Neh 12:24), 2) limited periods of service (versus perpetual service as in the case of priests) (Num 8:24-26), 4) a reward for faithful service (Deu 33:8-11 w/1Ti 3:13). 3) a number representative of the congregation (Num 3:12).

3.4. The qualifications for deacons (or new covenant Levites) are not nearly as strict as those for new covenant priests (1Ti 3:1-7 versus 1Ti 3:8-12; e.g., no mention of deacons [like elders] needing to be “above reproach” [approved by legitimate and strict scrutiny], “temperate” [even keeled in his emotions/behavior] “prudent” [wise]). In modern terms the qualifications for deacons can be summarized as: 1) you can’t be a loser, dork, wimp, weirdo or ghetto (8 “dignified”), 2) you can’t be two-faced, a politician, a manipulator, given to flattery or brown-nosing, living for appearances, living a double-life, untrustworthy, insincere or dishonest in what you say (8 “double-tongued”), 3) you can’t be addicted to any unnecessary foreign substances that impede your ability to fulfill your God-given duties (8 “addicted to much wine”), 4) you can’t be open to committing crimes to make money or positions of authority to push your agenda or preferences on others (8 “fond of sordid gain” – 1Ti 6:5), 5) you must be prone to – and possess a reputation of protecting – versus insurrecting or causing division in the church or casting doubt in the minds of others as to the Christian doctrine being taught by her pastors (9 “holding to” = Bold or strong in protecting/possessing [1Co 7:37; Isa 13:8; no cowards or quiet men]; “the mystery of the Faith” = The church and her teachings/gospel [Eph 3:8-10]; “with a clear conscience” = Not prone to or possessing guilt in relation to division/dissension/insurrection [e.g., 2Co 1:12]); 6) you have a track record demonstrating you meet the prior qualifications (10; e.g., cap crimes/EOTC < 1yr after restoration/issued), 7) if you have a wife, she likewise is not a loser, wimp, weirdo, dork or ghetto, nor is she reckless with her tongue saying stupid, baseless stuff that hurts others or an emotional mess or unreliable and disobedient when given a command or task (11), 8) you can’t be sexually immoral (12 “husband of one wife”), 9) your home and children are not a mess (12 “good managers”).

3.4. What all of this means for Christ Covenant Church from a church polity/government perspective: 1) Tim is a deacon (and our head deacon). 2) we need more deacons (a good representation) of our current congregation (i.e., we need to elect 6 more [total of 9 or ~ 10% rep. of the congregation/ ~1/3 of our men]). 3) we have men who meet the qualifications (which now includes single men and those who by 2024, have served one year [versus two for elders] after restoration/EOTC issuance; except for Forrest Stinnett, none of our other men are disqualified due to discipline.). 4) repentance w/respect to women deacons and women in judgment. 5) though laymen and women can serve in other ministries (e.g., worship, offerings, security, etc – See 1Ch 9:2 – there are “temple servants” [Hbr. Netinims]), only the deacons can serve in the sacred roles of the Lord’s Table and JUDCO. 6) men must be re-elected to continue serving (elections every two years; next election in/for 2026). 7) these men ARE NOT ELDERS (and therefore should not be held to that standard). 8) There will be a special ceremony in January (2024) to commission those chosen/confirmed. 9) Because these men will be officers of the church (being deputized w/some authority), we will address them using the honorary title of “officer” (e.g., officer Tim, officer Andrew, officer Robert).

[1] (Exo 28:41) “ordain” = Fill their hand…w/wisdom (to judge – vv29-30) and authority to atone (30:10).

[2] Bishop is the term used in Episcopal churches and other ancient forms of Christendom to refer to their priests/pastors.

[3] “pastor” which means shepherd is the term used by God when speaking about his priests or ordained/anointed leaders (e.g., Num 27:17; Isa 56:11, 63:11, Jer 10:21, 12:10, 22:22, 23:1-4, 25:34-36, 50:6; Eze 34:2-10).

[4] “When the pastor reads and preaches the Word, he symbolizes Christ, the Husband, speaking to His holy Bride (which is, by the way, one of the main reasons why women cannot be pastors; they cannot publicly symbolize Christ the Husband to His Bride, the Church, 1Co 11:2-10, 14:33-38; Eph 5:22-33; 1Ti 2:11-15).” – Jeffrey J. Meyers (The Lord’s Service)

[5] Viewing them as ruling elders yet using 1Ti 3:8-13 to support this theory misses the obvious: Paul’s use of the term “elder” – or teaching on the qualifications for elders ends at verse 7.

[6] The authority of the Levites is therefore by proxy (i.e., only valid/enforceable when it was in agreement w/the priests). We see the same thing in relation to those tribal elders and officers God gave to Moses as additional help (Num 11:16-17).

[7] Unlike the priests, the Levites cannot make atonement (e.g., See the contrast between the Levites and the priests in 1Chr 6:1-48 w/49). As such, only the ordained pastor – or new covenant priest can baptize (the point at which atonement is rec’d/the power of binding and loosing or forgiveness).

Everything You Need To Know About Young Christian Marriage

Young Christian Marriage = Marriage before the age of 25.

 

In the United States young marriage has been on a steady decline. The average age of marriage for a man and woman today is 30 yrs and 28 yrs (respectively) versus 1920 when those numbers were 24 yrs and 21 yrs (respectively). This trend is neither biblical nor wise. It stems from worldly thinking that is both selfish and satanic.

 

1. Young (Christian) marriage is the biblical paradigm. Covenant kids would enter into (their first) marriages between 12 to 20 years of age (Mar 5:39-42 “girl” [Grk., korasion]) = Unique word referring to a young girl who has gone through puberty [sexually mature] and ready for marriage (See LXX, Gen 24:4; Ruth 2:5; Zec 8:5 “boys and girls [Grk., korasion] playing in the streets” = More accurately, sexually mature boys and girls dancing in the public square for the purpose of seeking out a spouse (e.g., Jug 21:14-23 w/Exo 32:6; See also Mat 14:6-11 “girl” [Grk., korasion]). Hence the reason Solomon can speak of “the wife of your youth” (Pro 5:18 = Wife taken at a young age). This is the time also when Christ speaks of taking Israel as His bride (Eze 16:7-8 “your breasts were formed…you were at the time for love” = At the age of sexual maturity). Joseph and Mary (Jesus’ parents), were also married (betrothed – Mat 1:18) at a young age. Scholars believe they were between the ages of 12 and 16.

 

2. The false assumptions made by many ignorant people is that shorter lifespans and the necessity to produce many children were the only reasons for the young marriage model of the Bible (or ancient times). In reality, sexual purity was another equally important reason (1Co 7:1-9 w/36) (36a) “past her youth” (the expected time when marriage would occur) = Paul’s instruction (in vv1-9) is in respect to the young, those who are beginning to experience strong sexual urges. His prescription? Get married (v9 – “it is better to marry than to burn with passion”[alternate interpretation = “burn in hell”]). (36b)“if…he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin” = The father’s neglect/refusal to find his daughter a husband (arrange a marriage for his daughter during her younger years) is ignoring his daughter’s natural sexual desires- as well as putting at risk her ability to remain sexually pure. (36c) “If it must be so” = She has not been given the gift of celibacy and therefore needs to be married so as to secure satisfy her sexual desires and maintain sexual purity. This is the same reason Paul commands young widows to pursue remarriage (1Ti 5:11). This is also the reason betrothals are to be no longer than 6 months (See document, The Biblical Model For Marriage).

 

3. Numerous studies confirm the biblical paradigm of young marriage to be the wisest for Christians – i.e., young married Christians/religious people are far more likely to achieve happiness, stability and permanence (not divorce) than those who are not religious and/or wait.

 

3.1. “There’s a general assumption – so widespread that it no longer requires demonstration – that in order to have a high-quality and lasting marriage, it’s necessary first to finish college, start a successful career, and then look for a partner with the same qualifications. Despite the ease of divorce, marriage is still perceived as being characterized by exclusivity, fidelity, and permanence. As a consequence, another idea that has become widely shared and promoted before embarking on such a definitive commitment is to give the relationship “a test drive” first — a period of cohabitation — to see how being together within the same walls works when you have shopping and chores to do, work commitments to juggle, and perhaps already a child to raise. Willingly or unwillingly, we have borrowed this popular approach to marriage from a consumer [worldly] mindset: before confirming a purchase, I need to test whether the product or service meets my expectations. But the sociological research shows that this is not the best approach when it comes to marriage [emphasis mine].Psychologist Galena Rhoades, who studies young adult relationships, argues that:

‘We generally think that having more experience is better [or getting to know the person for longer is better].

But what we find for relationships is just the opposite. Having more experience was related to having a less happy marriage later on. For example, we found that people who had been married before, people who had lived with a boyfriend or girlfriend before, and having had more sexual partners before marriage, were each associated with having lower marital quality later on.’ Sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project (University of Virginia), W. Bradford Wilcox… showed in a study how much more efficient the so-called traditional and much disparaged model is: ‘The conventional wisdom holds that spending your twenties focusing on education, work and fun, and then marrying around 30 is the best path to maximize your odds of forging a strong and stable family life. But the research tells a different story, at least for religious couples [emphasis mine]. Saving cohabitation for marriage, and endowing your relationship with sacred significance, seems to maximize your odds of being stably and happily married.’” – Paola Belletti (“Research shows that marrying relatively young without living together first results in the most durable marriages”)

 

3.2. The point not to miss: Research confirms that Christian (religious) couples marrying young have a better chance for marital success than those who are older, deciding to pursue other life goals first or (because of waiting) have had more romantic and sexual encounters. In respect to the last, sociologists posit this may be due to the fact that the more romantic relationships and sexual encounters a person has (pre-marital), the more accustomed they become to severing and surviving the bonds created by such relationships and encounters making them more likely to do the same in their marriages when things get rough.

 

4. The Bible provides the answers to why Christians getting married young is indeed the wise choice:

 

4.1. because sexual purity is still a priority with God and marriage is His solution (1Th 4:1-6 “how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” [which includes thru marriage based on v.6]; 1Co 7:2 “because of immoralities” = The solution to sexual immorality is marriage [e.g., parents w/immoral sons and daughters sb praying for them to find a spouse]).

 

4.2. because time is on their side (Ecc 4:9-12) = The key to possessing the benefits of verses – i.e., security/stability financially (9), emotionally (10), and physically (11-12a) is only achieved where you have the ingredients found in “a cord of three” (12b): 1) a marriage (first and second cords) and 2) time (third cord). Not experience, but time. Young married couples therefore gain the advantage of this third and vitally important ingredient. Time is on their side – meaning they have the potential to achieve sooner – and enjoy longer, the benefits of financial, emotional and physical stability. As the saying goes, “the sooner you are strong, the longer you will run”.

 

4.3. because the ultimate key to marital success is not prior knowledge or experience but a commitment to covenant faithfulness (Gen 24:62-67) “loved her” = Gave himself fully in covenant faithfulness to her. Consider that Isaac did this without copious amounts of knowledge or experience with respect to Rebekah’s personality, personal tastes or habits. This because covenant faithfulness does not require such knowledge or experience in order to be successful since what determines faithfulness is not the person or the reception of favorable circumstances in the future, but the covenant itself – i.e., my faithfulness is to the covenant not the person (Gen 2:24 – “The blood of the [marriage] covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”[1]). As self-programmed robots with stupid computers (computers that don’t attempt to reason you out of your stupid decisions), what you make the target of success will determine when your brain sends you the feeling of satisfaction/happiness (e.g., kid winning or losing at Chutes and Ladders). When that target does not change, it becomes easier to hit – or receive such emotional reward, strengthening our commitment to it. Covenant gives us that kind of target, people (including the people we are married to) do not. Unlike covenant, they change – making it harder to receive the same satisfaction we experienced in the past. Once more, however, when we live for the covenant (being faithful to it as our target of success- and not the person themselves) we continue throughout our lives to receive satisfaction (even if that person is difficult or disappointing). As long as the covenant remains intact, our potential for continued satisfaction remains intact. The worldly idea of “try before you buy” – or get to know the person (sexually or otherwise) to make sure there is a good fit, infers that the goal of marriage is selfish and satanic – i.e., self-gratification/glorification is the highest goal in life – which includes our marriages (Gen 3:5), versus what the bible teaches: the highest goal in marriage is covenant faithfulness/fidelity.

Lastly, it must be mentioned that this is by Divine design. We were designed by God to find our greatest joy, happiness and feelings of affection in the pursuit of covenant faithfulness. Hence the reason also that our yes is to be yes and our no is to be no. Not simply for the purpose of being righteous, but so that we might experience the joy of covenant faithfulness (since that is what we are making when we make verbal commitments [“yes” and “no”] to others). Two examples from marriage that prove covenant fidelity is how we are designed (or at the core of what truly makes us happy): 1) the increased sense of commitment and affection we experience when imagining our spouse becoming disabled, 2) the greater happiness experienced by those in arranged marriages. Multiple studies show those in arranged marriages tend to be happier for longer than those in non-arranged marriages (For consideration see the short article by Paul Bentley, “Why an arranged marriage ‘is more likely to develop into lasting love’”). Our move away from arranged marriages is actually a detriment since it puts the focus on self rather than covenant fidelity (and therefore sets us up for failure/unhappiness). Given the current social climate, and the false idea that a person needs to feel love before they can commit to love, it would be almost impossible to return to this more ideal framework for marriage without causing undue harm to the covenant community[2].

 

5. In biblical times, sexual maturity was not the only factor determining when a child could/would marry. Mental maturity (or being recognized as a adult) was also a factor. Unlike today however, children reached mental maturity at – or around, the same time they were becoming sexually mature (e.g., Bar Mitzvah [male] = 13 yrs old.; Bat mitzvah [female] = 12 yrs old). Hence allowing them to be married at a much younger age than today. The deficiencies associated with the modern American models of parenting, education and justice make it hard to consider most children today as mentally mature until the age of 18. Wisdom therefore dictates that this be the general rule when determining the minimum age acceptable for our Christian youth to marry (though exceptions do exist).

 

[1] Since it is a marriage covenant we enter into w/Christ and His church when we become Christians, this principle applies here as well. Our loyalty to Christ and his church supersedes all other relationships. Hence Mat 10:32-39. It is our marriage covenant w/Christ that also proves this principle to be valid. We come to Christ knowing very little about the Christian life – or what the future may hold, yet are able to be happy and successful – irrespective of such ignorance.

[2] Given the biblical understanding, how should we view feelings of love (e.g., “I am in love with him/her”)? A nice but unnecessary enhancement that can add extra motivation to our pursuit of marriage with the right person. Never however should it function as the piece determining who that person is.

Accusations

Our launch of NEWPRO – as well as all the things that have transpired around that ministry – including those who first began attacking us, has led to a plethora of accusations against our church. Most specifically against me (pastor), but also you (the congregation) since when they attack me (as a false teacher), they are also saying something about you (e.g., you are incompetent, mindless lemmings, suffering from a strange version of Stockholm syndrome). Such accusations are meant to cause alarm, to trigger doubt in the mind – or even feelings of panic. Like the most recent Deepfake stunts that have crippled some of our banks and businesses, these attacks against our church are meant to make you think that something is now wrong (when in reality nothing has changed), that the foundation is rotten (when in reality it is as rock solid as ever). It is the manipulation of Satan, the “accuser of the brethren”, a powerful tool that has destroyed many lives over the course of human history. It is in fact, where things originally all went wrong. Satan accused God, of keeping from Adam and Eve, what they (or the human race) needed to be happy. And because they believed this accusation, they (as well as the rest of humanity), forfeited not only their chance at immortality now, but gained the pain and suffering of bodies now vulnerable to disease, damage and death. Because they failed in the realm of accusations, Paradise itself was lost. Conceivably then, the eternal end may prove to be as its beginning. A person’s place in heaven or hell, will most be determined by how they handled accusation – specifically those levelled against God, His church, pastors or gospel. This is the dark waters where the real sea dragon lives. And only those committed to God’s protocol and prescription, will safely navigate their way to the shores of heaven.

1. All accusations of a crime – especially those that are serious, must be taken seriously:

1) conduct a thorough investigation (Deu 17:1-4a; this includes accusations made against your pastor/gospel –e.g., pastor owns the building; e.g., a man in our church is acting as a mole, fueling the false narratives and slander being propagated by the apostate and those on the outside [pastor is doing arranged marriages of our young people]), 2) require evidence necessary to convict of a crime (Deu 17:4b-6; 1Ti 5:19 – What this implies: such evidence can be obtained and understood so as to secure a just verdict [Contra., e.g., pastor makes people believe they problems in their marriage or twists Scripture in such a way that it is impossible to see how he is wrong; e.g., “the logic being used in the Bible is different than our logic”), 3) issue swift, pitiless and fitting punishment to those found guilty (Deu 17:5, 19:21; e.g., 1Ti 5:20 and Tit 1:11-13), 4) expect congregational affirmation and involvement (Deu 17:7).

2. All those claiming to be Christians who make false accusations – especially in relation to serious crimes, must be responded to severely.

(1Co 5:11-12) “so-called brother” = Any person who claims to be a Christian (versus the confirmed brother: any person whose claim is confirmed by their baptism and good standing in a legitimate covenant community). “Do you not judge those who are within the church” = Based on Paul’s previous reference, this includes anyone claiming to be a Christian (in or outside our particular church). Paul’s point: By taking the name of Christ, you are putting yourself under the church’s authority, expectations and judgment. In relation to severity see (Deu 19:15-21; Also 2Ti 2:16).

3. When we don’t take accusations seriously or respond severely to those who make false accusations – especially against our leaders or gospel, we are:

1) giving the impression that we are a cult (2Co 11:19-20), 2) creating doubt in the minds of God’s people (2Ti 2:18 w/Tit 1:10-11), 3) fueling the spread of such accusations and behavior – i.e., more people will believe them to be true (2Ti 2:16-17a –“spread like gangrene”).

4. Making false accusations – or accusations lacking the necessary evidence, against a church’s pastor and his teaching, attempting to cause doubt in the minds of his congregation – or separate his people from him, is the bona fide behavior of a wolf.

(Act 20:28-30; Rom 16:17)

5. Biblical protocol requires that those accusing a pastor of preaching a false gospel (or being a false teacher) must give him the chance to defend himself before his accusers – even when they believe they possess irrefutable proof that he is guilty.

(Joh 7:51-52: Notice how they thought they already had evidence Jesus was wrong. They missed the other piece: the chance for the accused to defend themselves before their accusers; The biblical principles mentioned in John 7 are the basis of this country’s court systems: 1] innocent until proven guilty, 2] the accused has a right to defend themselves before their accusers; hence Gal 2:11. Like Jesus, the verdict leveled against God’s pastors or people happens in “kangaroo court” Luk 22:53 w/Mat 26:55-68).

6. Anyone claiming to be a Christian and accusing a pastor of preaching a false gospel (or being a false teacher) though they failed to follow biblical protocol or provide the biblical prescription (the evidence necessary to make the conviction) could be guilty of the unforgivable sin.

We know this is true for all confirmed Christians of a particular covenant community aware of the crime of insurrection and guilty of committing it, but what about those not in our church? What about those who are not a part of our covenant community yet also claim to be Christian—the “so-called brother”? Based on what Paul says about the “so-called brother” (in 1Co 5:11-13), they too can be guilty of committing the unforgivable sin/insurrection should they refuse to repent after being made aware of their crime (Mat 12:22-24 w/30-32; until they are made aware, it is the sin of ignorance – e.g., Act 23:1-5). “Whoever” = Whoever from the covenant community. Speaks against the Holy Spirit” = Insurrection, condemning/standing against those spiritual authorities ordained w/the authority of the Holy Spirit in the covenant community (Num 15:28-30, 16:1-3; Deu 17:12-13; Joh 20:21-23). Similar to Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians, the Pharisees were not a part of Jesus’ new covenant community, but they were “so-called brothers” (Jews claiming to be a part of the old covenant community). As such, this made them liable to the charge of insurrection/unforgiveable sin. Why does Jesus claim these individuals to immediately be guilty of this sin? Because of all the Jews, the Pharisees were experts in the Law and therefore already knew the crime they were committing (if Jesus was indeed Who He said He was.) Most so-called brothers today, have no idea that condemning legitimate spiritual authorities in the church could make them guilty of such a crime. Hence once more the reason they must be told before such a judgment could be declared against them (revelation establishes obligation). Why we need to warn the ignorant “so-called brother” of this crime: because, their ignorance still has the consequence of eventually leading them to the place where they are locked in their sin by God (i.e., their day of grace is over – Eph 4:17-19). Why does 2Ti 2:24-26 not apply to this situation? The person in these verses stands in opposition yet follows the biblical protocol and attempts to bring the evidence. Hence the reason the ordained pastor is not to quarrel with them, be equitable (“kind”) and able to teach them.

Marriage Covenant Gospel: Answering Objections

MCG Summary: The saving relationship we enter with Jesus is a marriage covenant (Jer 31:31-32). As such, it functions according to the principles of gain and maintain. We gain our salvation (or marriage to Jesus) through faith (expressed in the waters of baptism – Joh 3:5; 1Pe 3:21; Gal 3:26-27) and we maintain our salvation (or marriage to Jesus) through faithful obedience to all of His commands (Luk 10:25-28).

 

OBJECTIONS: 1) why this matters = Gal 1:6-9; Jud 1:3-4; “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity” – Albert Einstein,

2) what to keep in mind = Gal 4:16; Psa 19:7 w/Pro 30:5; Isa 8:20; 2Ti 3:15; “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong” – Richard Feynman (e.g., Mormons do more missions/mercy work than any other religious organization, yet b/c what they believe does not hold up to all of Scripture, they are sending themselves and others to hell).

 

“To defeat relativity , one does not need 100 scientists, but just one fact.” – Albert Einstein

 

“To defeat MCG one does not need 100 Evangelicals, but just one solid proof from Scripture.”

 

What we have encountered thus far: talked to many pastors/Bible teachers, none could refute us, and several (secretly) agreed that we were right (e.g., Dave Anderson of Littleton Bible Chapel).

 

Objection #1. Works/obedience to the Law are not part of justification/salvation (Rom 3:28, 10:4).

1.1. Mac’s Hammer: 1) works are necessary to saving faith (Jam 2:14-26), 2) saving faith is necessary to salvation (Jam 2:14), Conclusion: works are therefore necessary to salvation.

1.2. Bipartite view of the Law: 1) Both James and Paul are dealing with justification (salvation), 2) The “works” James refers to are necessary to salvation (Jam 2:24) whereas the works Paul refers to are not (Rom 3:28), Conclusion: the NT teaches two types of Law/works, one that is necessary to salvation (moral commands = Rom 13:8-10) and one that is not (“works of the law” = Rom 3:28, 10:4 [i.e., OC clean laws: circumcision, animal sacrifices, Sabbath days, separation from the unclean).

1.3. Bipartite view of Justification: 1) Both James and Paul speak of justification in relation to Abraham, 2) the justification Paul speaks about in relation to Abraham happens at the point of faith (Rom 4:1-3 w/Gen 15:6) whereas the justification James speaks about in relation to Abraham happens after he proves his faithfulness (Jam 2:21-23 w/Gen 22:1-18), Conclusion: the NT teaches two types of justification/salvation, one that happens at the point of our faith and another that happens only after we have lived in faithful obedience.

 

Objection #2. Works are the inevitable result of saving faith/work of the Holy Spirit (versus another condition of our salvation)/Christ obeyed for us (Phi 1:6; Mat 5:17)

2.1. The works God requires for salvation are communicated as commands to us – not the Holy Spirit (e.g., Eph 5:22).

2.2. The NT is filled with threats to real Christians who fail to be faithful (e.g., Heb 10:26-30, 12:14; 1Co 6:9; Gal 5:5, 21; 2Ti 2:12)

2.3. The Holy Spirit is never communicated as the Doer of our obedience, but rather as the Helper to those who endeavor to obey God (Joh 14:16; Act 5:32)

2.4. God’s promise to finish the work He started (Phi 1:6) is simply a confirmation of faithfulness to His covenant vow to be our God and us His people (Jer 31:33). IOW: to continue to provide what we need to make it to heaven as long as we remain faithful to our covenant vows to obey His commands (hence why Paul follows Phi 1:6 w/2:12-16; See also 2Pe 1:3-11; 2Ti 2:11-13, 19).

2.5. Nowhere in the Bible does it ever teach Christ obeyed the Law for us – including Mat 5:17 (See Mat 5:18-20 = If Christ were referring to fulfilling the Law for us in v17, then these verses make no sense –or what follows in the remainder of the chapter vv21-48. It also is a direct violation of His words in v17 and there OT origin – Deu 18:18-20 – and God’s Law – Eze 18:1-32; See also Isa 2:1-3 = Messiah would teach God’s Law to the people).

 

Objection #3: We cannot be perfect, if we can lose our salvation due to disobedience, we would all lose it (Rom 3:10-18; Isa 64:6).

3.1. The standard is faithfulness not perfection and is something that all people can do—even those who did not have the help of the Holy Spirit (Deu 28:1-2 w/30:11-14). Hence also the reason God gave the sacrifices/Christ – to cleanse us when we fail (if perfection was all God would accept why the institution of the sacrifices before – and as a part of giving the Law?).

3.2. God hates those who say that can’t do it since this makes them victims and Him unjust in His judgment (Eze 18:1-32).

3.3. Scripture is filled w/examples of people who were faithful in their obedience to God (e.g., Gen 6:9; Neh 9:8; Psa 18:20; Luk 1:6).

3.4. Rom 3 and Isa 64 are in reference to people committed to folly, evil, violent rebellion and wickedness – or those whose life is characterized not by faithfulness to God’s commands but to practicing iniquity, injustice and what is unholy (for Rom 3:10-18 see Psa 14:1-3, 53:1-3; Psa 5:9, 140:3; Psa 10:7; Isa 59:7f; Psa 36:1; for Isa 64:6 see Isa 64:1-5 “we sinned [and continued in them] for a long time”).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objection #4: This is a works-based salvation that gives glory to man rather than God (Eph 2:8-9).

4.1. The Bible nowhere teaches a works-based salvation yet has always taught the necessity of faithful obedience (e.g., Luk 10:25-28 w/Lev 18:5; Joh 4:22 = The mechanics of our salvation is the same as their salvation).

4.2. Marriage requires covenant fidelity to remain intact (e.g., Jer 3:1-3 w/Isa 50:1-2). Yet no one ever thinks they are earning their marriage through such faithfulness (e.g., “honey I was faithful today and have earned three kisses”). Rather the blessings afforded to us at the time we gave our marital vows and gained our marriages remain abundantly available to us as long as we remain faithful to our vows (of obedience/fidelity).

4.3. There is no glory taken from God (or given to us) when we obey (as a necessity of our salvation). Rather we are just making good on what we originally vowed – i.e., doing what those purchased by God ought to do as their obligation to their Master (Luk 17:1-10).

4.4. Eph 2:8-9 are in reference to the lack of boasting that exists for all those who have come into saving covenant relationship w/Christ since the ability to gain such a relationship was only made possible because of God’s decision to show us mercy and Christ’s decision to die for our sins (See Eph 2:1-7). Before that, we were “without hope and without God.” (Eph 2:11-12). Interestingly enough, it is this “grace” (and lack of boasting) that establishes our obligation to obey (“grace” = Ancient term implying reciprocity. In ancient times all gifts were covenantal and establishing a relationship of reciprocity. No ancient society existed where grace was given with “no strings attached” [See Marcel Mauss, The gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Socieities; John Barclay, Paul and the Gift. e.g., Gen 21:23 [hesed] = grace]; Rom 13:8-10 w/Eph 2:10 “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” = We must reciprocate on God’s gift of grace through obedience to the Law [what God prepared beforehand]; e.g., Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, “[This covenant] demands a result not an appeasement”; The false gospel is known by its abuse of grace in this respect [i.e., no reciprocation – Jud 1:4]).

 

Objection #5: Christ’s death was needless or insufficient if we still need to obey (practice justice) or can lose our salvation (Gal 2:21; Joh 6:39)

5.1. Jesus’ death was propitiatory not penal. IOW: He did not come to remove our need to obey/practice justice. If He did then why: 1) do we still die?, 2) still need to repent of our sins (1Jo 1:9 = No such thing as “your sins are all forgiven, past, present and future”), 3) is there nowhere in the Bible that states Jesus was punished (paid justice) for our sins? (IOW: God is not the cosmic child-abuser, Evangelicals make Him out to be) 4) are the OT lambs never spoken of as being punished?

5.2. Propitiation (cleansing the stain of sin away) has always been necessary for gaining justification and Christ perfectly accomplished this mission (“It is finished” – Joh 19:30) as proven by His resurrection (Rom 4:25). Yet what has also always been necessary is that those receiving such propitiation, practice justice (faithful obedience) to continue receiving it (i.e., maintain what they have already gained).

5.3. Paul’s statement in (Gal 2:21) is in regard to gaining justification not maintaining it (See Gal 2:15-20: 1] we gain justification not thru observing the OC clean laws [“works of the law”] but faith in Christ [15-16], 2] gaining justification by faith in Christ does not give us a license to sin. We must maintain that justification just as they did under the OC, thru dying/submitting to God’s/Christ’s laws [17-20]).

5.4. Jesus promises to never lose us (those given by the Father) (Joh 6:39), but we still possess a free will and can decide to leave Him (lose our salvation) through unwillingness to obey/disobedience (i.e., not fulfilling our covenant vows of obedience) (Joh 6:66 “disciples” = Those baptized into a saving covenant relationship w/Jesus [(Mat 28:19) = Notice what follows gaining salvation/becoming a disciple, the maintenance of obedience (v20).

 

Objection #6: Marriage is a metaphor only

6.1. Metaphors can explain or express but never dictate or justify the actions of a person.

6.2. God (Jesus) justifies His actions (or the actions of His disciples) based on the principles governing marriage and the rights of the marital spouse (Isa 50:1 = I had the right to divorce/sell you b/c or your covenant disobedience; Jer 3:1 w/Deu 24:1-4; Eze 16:8-16, 32; Hos 2:1-13; Mat 9:14-15 = Disciples are justified in not fasting b/c the Bridegroom is present).

 

Objection #7: No historical support for the MCG (or view of gain and maintain).

“[According to the early Christians] the second stage of salvation is this: we must maintain our saved condition by holding fast to our faith in living obedience to Christ’s commandments. Please understand we are already saved, we are not doing these things to earn salvation. We do these things to maintain our already saved condition.” – David Bercot (What the Early Christians Believed About Salvation).

The First Evangelicals, Hymenaeus and Philetus

Though Martin Luther is the man credited with inventing the faith alone gospel (FAG) and the term, “evangelical”, the first Evangelicals – or faith-alone followers pre-dated Luther by 1,500 years. Among them were Hymenaeus and Philetus, two men whose gospel Paul viewed as dangerous not only because of its damning message, but its potential quickly become popular.

 

1. Who were Hymenaeus and Philetus?

1.1. Their names mean “singing man” and “friendly man” (respectively). Like Nabal (1Sa 25:25), it is possible that their birth names providentially fit the character. As such, it is also possible that these men possessed personalities or personal traits that made them very likable to–and therefore effective manipulators of–others (2Co 11:13-15).

 

1.2. They were Christians (i.e., those who had at one time expressed saving faith in Christ/were baptized into Christ – Gal 3:26-27; 1Pe 3:21) that later, had been excommunicated or apostasized from the church due to embracing and teaching a false gospel message (1Ti 1:18-20). (20) “handed over to Satan” = Hymenaeus (along w/Alexander) had been excommunicated from the church (1Co 5:1-5). That the sin both men were committing was indeed related to not simply to the gospel but the necessity of obedience is revealed in what else Paul says: 1) “fight the good fight keeping faith[fulness] (pistus = faith/faithfulness; 2Ti 4:7), 2) “and a good conscience” = Free from the guilt of disobedience due to good behavior (Act 23:1; Heb 13:18; 1Pe 3:21), 3) “blaspheme” = A crime associated w/false gospels – most specifically those whose message neglects the necessity of obedience (2Pe 2:1 w/12 “reviling” [blasphemeo] = blaspheming). Evidence therefore suggests that what led to the “shipwreck” of Hymenaeus and Philetus’ Christian Faith was their (eventual) rejection of the maintain portion of the gospel – i.e., they were guilty of embracing a faith-alone (or only) gospel.

 

1.3. Paul’s failure to mention Philetus in his first epistle is most likely because he – unlike Hymenaeus, was unwilling to repent and was therefore immediately (and permanently) declared apostate (i.e., He is church history’s first known apostate Evangelical).

 

2. What is the context surrounding of our primary text?

2.1. Timothy is suffering because of the gospel and being admonished to kindle a spirit of power, love (or loyalty) and discipline necessary to continue suffering as a good soldier for the gospel (1:3-8, 2:3, also 8-9).

 

2.2. Timothy is being admonished to continue preaching and protecting the gospel that agrees with the pattern of salvation found throughout the Scripture (1:13-14). (13) “Retain [continue to possess -or in this case, preach] the standard [Grk., hupotuposis = pattern] of sound words [words that agree w/the salvation found in Scripture]… (14) “Guard…the treasure [protect the gospel].” = Continue to preach and protect the gospel the agrees with the pattern of salvation throughout the Scripture (Old and New Testaments) (Joh 4:22). Pattern of salvation found throughout Scripture = God saving people through marriage covenants (Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic and Old Covenant are all marital in nature – which means this is pattern to be preached and protected with respect to God’s salvation/gospel under the New Covenant).

 

2.3. Timothy is to recall that suffering hardship as a result of possessing the true gospel should be expected not only because of the disobedient and deceived state of most people – including false Christians and false Christian authorities (3:1-5 “godliness” [eusebia] = Spiritual authority/religion; 3:12-13 “imposters” = False Christians and Christian authorities), but more importantly, because this is an important part of how we maintain our salvation and resist spiritual compromise and worldly wickedness (2:11-12a) = Our living and reigning w/Christ requires dying and enduring w/Christ (dying to self and enduring suffering for His gospel). (2:12b-13) = In faithfulness to His NC promise, Jesus will deny all those Christians who deny Him thru unfaithfulness (“faithless”) (Mat 10:32-39) = Confessing Christ (versus denying Him) requires “love” (loyalty) to Jesus over blood family and obedience to Jesus over sin and self (Joh 14:15; Obeying [the Law] is how we love others – 1Jo 5:2; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:13-14). Jesus made the same promise to those under the OC (Deu 28:1-2 w/15 w/29:9-25). (2:19) = To be a true Christian (people “the Lord knows…are His”), you must not only “name the Name of the Lord” (i.e., gain salvation by vows of faith confessing Jesus – Rom 10:9-11), but also maintain it by “abstain[ing] from wickedness” (i.e., through practicing faithful obedience to His laws/commands since what defines sin – or wickedness is anything in violation of His laws). Sin is “lawlessness” (1Jo 3:4). The point (then) not to miss: suffering hardship from others who call themselves Christians (false Christians) b/c of our gospel preaches the necessity of obedience/faithfulness (practicing righteousness) for salvation is an encouraging sign that we have the right gospel and are successfully maintaining our relationship w/Christ (Mat 5:10-12 “prophets” – See Amo 5:14-15, 21-24; 1Jo 3:7-10; e.g., Gen 6:9; Neh 9:8; Psa 18:20; Luk 1:6). Likewise it is also a sign that our opponents (Evangelicals) are going to Hell (unless they repent and turn to the truth) (Phi 1:27-28 “walk in a manner worthy of the gospel” = Obey; “sign of destruction for them” = Our obedience; See also 2Pe 2:1 and Jud 1:3-4).

3. What does the backstory on Hymenaeus and Philetus – as well as the surrounding context of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy – most especially verses 2:11-13 and 19 (the verses between which our primary text is sandwiched), reveal about the resurrection heresy being preached by Hymenaeus and Philetus?

3.1. That it served as support for their blasphemous (FAG) which rejected the need to maintain one’s salvation after expressing faith in Christ (18).

 

3.2. What then they were (and were not) teaching by saying “the resurrection had already taken place”:

3.2.1. What they were not teaching: previously dead Christians we presently walking around alive. How we know this isn’t what they we teaching: because this kind of ludicrous “talk” does not “spread like gangrene,” (i.e., quickly become popular) — the very thing Paul states was true in relation to what they taught (17).

 

3.2.2. What they were teaching: the reality of our future resurrection is already a done deal (or is as good as already done). The moment we put faith in Christ, our resurrection unto eternal life is a permanent, irrevocable guarantee. It is (therefore) as if it had “already taken place”

 

3.3. Possible teaching by Paul that Hymenaeus and Philetus may have twisted to come to this conclusion (2Pe 3:15-16): Paul’s original letter to the Ephesian church (the church attended by Hymenaeus and Philetus, the church where Timothy pastored) – most specifically Ephesians 2:6, where Paul says that after we are “made alive together with Christ” (v5 – a reference to our baptism and gaining of salvation by faith, See Rom 6:3-4) we are not only “raised up w/Him” but “seated…in the heavenly places”. It is very likely that Hymenaeus and Philetus (along w/Alexander) took this to mean that upon gaining salvation, we are also guaranteed a permanent, irrevocable place in heaven (1:20 “heavenly places” = heaven) —which is the same as saying our resurrection is also guaranteed, permanent and irrevocable. IOW: it is as if it had “already taken place”. The problem w/interpreting (Eph 2:6) this way: Paul does not say we are seated in the “heavenly places” but the “heavenly places in Christ Jesus” – a reference not to heaven itself, but rather the heavenly places that are a part of (or “in”) Christ – i.e., the Body of Christ, or the church (God’s house/heavenly outpost on earth, 1Ti 3:15). Paul confirms this understanding in (Eph 3:8-10) “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” = The Jewish spiritual authorities (those a part of the OC church/God’s OC house/outpost on earth) who needed to see the “light” w/respect God’s “mystery” – i.e., His inclusion of the Gentiles in His salvific plan and NC church.

 

3.4. How this understanding of the statement, “the resurrection has already taken place” (i.e., our resurrection unto heaven was irrevocably guaranteed the moment we put faith in Christ) denies the need for obedience (or maintaining what we gained by faith through faithfulness): Like Evangelicals who believe that by putting faith in Christ we have already received forgiveness for all sins – including those in the future, such thinking makes what we do after faith, irrelevant to our future standing with God. Obedience becomes simply nice-but ultimately not necessary (to salvation) since (once more), our place in heaven has already been irrevocably secured.

 

3.5. In summary then, what Hymenaeus and Philetus were guilty of preaching was a gospel message that taught salvation by faith-alone (i.e., the FAG), which makes them (among) the world’s first Evangelicals. And they are not only condemned by Paul and the early church for such beliefs, but the reason Paul gives special instructions to Timothy for dealing w/them in our remaining verses (14-17a).

 

4. What is Paul’s special instruction to pastors (and true Christians) for dealing w/those peddling the (FAG)?

4.1. Don’t engage them in debate unless you are able to soundly prove your position (14) “wrangle about words” = Struggle w/words (i.e., the words of Scripture – their meaning or interpretation). “useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” = Not only a waste of time, but will create confusion and ultimately doubt in the hearts of those who are listening.

 

4.2. Be so diligent in your study of Scripture that you are never caught off guard, unable to answer their objections or deliver a convincing defense (15).

 

4.3. Do not tolerate (expose) the employment of worldly tactics, illogical arguments and baseless accusations (16-17a) = By allowing for such things (which is what happens when we don’t expose such tactics by the enemy), we are not only feeding the ungodliness associated w/their antinomian position (no law/no obedience necessary), but fueling its fast spread throughout the world (“If I were to remain silent, I would guilty of complicity” – Albert Einstein).

To Teach Or Not To Teach

The conservative Evangelical understanding of Paul’s instruction to women in 1Timothy 2 fares no better than the view espoused by its liberal camp. Beside misogynistic motives, this is due to three things: 1) failure to understand the larger context into which the relevant verses fit, 2) ignorance of the Ephesian backstory, and 3) poor vetting of their proposed application. This short study will present the position that not only passes all tests w/respect to application but also agrees with Scripture and the backstory of Ephesus itself.

 

1. The reason Paul gives the instruction found in chapters one, two – and the beginning of three, is for the purpose of securing proper “conduct” in the “church” (or “household of God”) (1Ti 3:14-16) (15 “conduct”) = Based on what follows (v16), the behavior Paul is concerned with addressing is not things related to etiquette (e.g., no food or drink in the sanctuary, no disruptions or sleeping during the sermon, everybody needs to participate in the singing, etc). It is instead related to the subject of authority. (16a) “great is the mystery of godliness” = Spiritual devotion or authority (Grk. eusebia). Support for the semantic range of eusebia including also the idea of spiritual authority:

1.1. The majority of the word’s usage is found in the pastoral epistles whose main focus is spiritual authority in the church (i.e., pastors, elders and deacons).

1.2. Certain passages in the NT make more sense when esuebia is translated this way (Act 3:12; 1Ti 6:3-6 [some NAS Fn on v5, “religion”]; 2Ti 3:5 [some NAS Fn, “religion”]; Tit 1:1 [the spiritual authority given to Christ and His apostles – See 2Pe 3:1-2; e.g., Act 15:1-31]).

1.3. Paul’s “common confession” w/respect to Jesus (“the mystery of godliness”) is all about spiritual authority (i.e., the mystery of spiritual authority given to men as exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ) (16b):

1.3.1. “revealed in the flesh” w/Phi 2:5-8 = Jesus became a lowly man (someone without spiritual authority).

 

1.3.2. “vindicated in the Spirit” w/Phi 2:9-11 = Though a man, Jesus was shown to possess spiritual authority by the Spirit at His baptism (Pauls’ reference in Timothy w/Mat 3:16-17) and His exaltation/resurrection (Paul’s reference in Philippians w/Rom 1:4). Hence (Mat 12:22-32).

 

1.3.3. “seen by angels” w/Psa 8:5 and 1Co 6:3 = The mystery witnessed by angels is that men – who are physically inferior them are nonetheless their spiritual authorities.

 

1.3.4. “proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world” w/Mat 28:18-20 = The basis of Jesus’ great commission is His spiritual authority to proclaim salvation to all peoples/nations (Jew and Gentile)

 

1.3.5. “taken up in glory” w/Act 2:32-36 = Jesus (the guy the majority of Jews took to be nothing more than a man) is actually the boss of the universe.

1.4. Paul’s instruction just prior to (3:14-16) and immediately following our primary text (2:9-15) are the qualifications for those functioning as spiritual authorities in the church (elders and deacons, 3:1-13).

1.5. spiritual authority –or dealing w/those functioning at that capacity, is also where Paul begins his address to Timothy (1:1-3 w/6-7 “teachers of the Law”) = Certain individuals in the Ephesian church had self-styled themselves the authorities on the Law (i.e., those authorized to determine right doctrine) – even though they did not “understand…matters about which they make confident assertions” (and as a result were teaching “strange doctrines”).

 

2. What (then) can be safely concluded about our primary text (2:9-15): Paul is giving instruction as to what constitutes proper behavior (conduct) for not just anybody, but those possessing spiritual authority in the church. In this case, women deacons (1Ti 3:11).

 

3. Notice the word “godliness”(spiritual authority) is equally present in (v10). Paul’s point? Women “making a claim to” spiritual authority – i.e., operating in the office of deacon, will prove their fitness for office through their “good works” (or deeds) which (according to what surrounds this verse) includes works/deeds that demonstrate their authority to be under (or in submission to) the church’s male and ordained pastors/elders – those deputized by Christ w/the authority to determine right doctrine (Joh 20:21-23). And this they will do in two ways:

3.1. through their refusal to adorn themselves in authoritative (religious) clothing (i.e., vestments) (e.g., Exo 39- the robes worn exclusively by the priests; e.g., pastor Scott’s robe) (9) = Central to the city of Ephesus was the famous temple and cult devoted to the Greek goddess, Artemis (Roman goddess, Diana) (Act 19:27 w/35). Seeing that their god was a woman, this religion not only employed priestesses rather than priests as its highest spiritual authority, but taught that Eve was created first and women were the heads or authorities of the human race. Hence (2:13). As a sign of such authority, these priestesses would adorn themselves in vestments (religious dress) which included “costly garments”, jewelry and special hair arrangements (“braided hair”). That these things in and of themselves are not wrong is confirmed by Peter’s mention of similar female adornment in (1Pe 3:3) without strict prohibition. As such, Paul’s main concern – or reason for mentioning these things is not aesthetics but their communication of authority. In a city filled with women who claimed to be the highest human authority (estimates are that over one thousand priestesses attended to the Temple of Artemis)—including in spiritual matters, such carefulness as to a woman’s adornment in the church would be necessary to avoid confusion – especially in relation to those women who did carry some level of authority in the church (i.e., women deacons).

3.2. through their refusal to be in authoritative teaching positions

(12) = Given that women can function as deacons, it should be assumed that some would also function as teachers since this is one of the roles historically associated with office of deacon. According to Paul however, their role in this capacity must also demonstrate their submission to the church’s higher authorities, her male ordained pastors. As such, all teaching done by women deacons would need to be by proxy (i.e., teaching w/o authority or approved by the authority of another). This is what Paul means by “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” (Literally, “no to teach, not to exercise authority [in teaching] over a man”).

In this respect, she must “remain quiet” (i.e., not be given the authority to determine right doctrine/interpretation thru her teaching). What she teaches must instead be pre-approved or consistent w/what has already been established by the church’s male (ordained) pastors. That this is indeed what Paul is prescribing in verse 12 is confirmed when one considers:

3.2.1. the close parallel that exists between Paul’s instruction in verse 11 (“quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness”) and 1Co 14:34 (“the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak”).

What this almost identical instruction tells us: whatever Paul is communicating to the Corinthians, the same is being communicated to Timothy and the Ephesian church. Further unpacking of the Corinthian context helps us to understand exactly what that is (1Co 14:29-35) = Paul’s concern is that all special revelation proposed by those speaking or prophesying in the church (which included women -11:5) was done in an orderly way (v40) and received its proper judgment (as to its validity- v29). Hence then his prohibition against women speaking (or call for women to “keep silent”). The “Law” only allowed priests (or ordained pastors) to function as judges in such matters and priests were never women (e.g., Deu 17:8-12 w/Exo 28:1; Num 3:10). The point (then) not miss w/respect to Paul’s prohibition in 1Ti 2:12: it is not against women speaking/teaching God’s Word but doing so w/authority –or as one who has the authority to determine what is the right interpretation/doctrine. Similar to those men who fill the pulpit when the ordained pastor is away, women teachers (once more) are relegated to teaching by proxy -or teaching only what has already been approved as orthodox by the ordained pastor (versus being the ones- who through their teaching, are establishing that standard)[1].

3.2.2. the explicit and implicit support for women as teachers found in the NT: 1) explicitly (1Co 14:1 w/9 “instruct” w/1Co 14:31 “learn” = prophecy is teaching[2]), 2) implicitly (2Ti 2:2 and Eph 4:8 [“men” = anthropos NOT andros/aner = humans]; Eph 4:11 = Women were evangelists, prophets, and teachers – Act 21:9 [prophets]; Act 18:26 [evangelist, teacher]).

3.2.3. teaching by proxy (or under authority) is exactly what Paul teaches in (1Co11:5).

3.2.4. interpreting Paul’s words in 1Timothy 2:11-12 as a prohibition against women ever teaching or speaking Scripture (notice again, speaking is included in Paul’s prohibition) when men are present creates a myriad of practical problems: 1) Scripture declares itself to be teaching without the need for someone to engage in the exercise of teaching (e.g., Rom 6:17 “teaching” [didaxe – noun]). As such, a woman would be forbidden from ever reading Scripture out loud or quoting Scripture in the presence of men. 2) women would also be forbidden from writing books discussing scripture, biblical topics or theology (or at the very least, it would be forbidden for men to read those books) since this too is a form of teaching (e.g., Nancy Pearcy’s Total Truth or other books). 3) no talk w/respect to men and Scripture wb allowed (e.g., Paul Oljker is sick, and when Mindy comes home he asks her to give a summary of the teaching. Mindy would not be able to tell Paul what the sermon was about. Instead, Paul wb required to get the recording or ask a man to summarize the sermon for him. Mindy would need to remain silent on all such matters). 4) it wb forbidden for a woman to give any instruction to a man if that instruction was backed by Scripture (especially if she is queried to support her instruction) (e.g., Kris is helping Sam w/the principles of budgeting. If those principles come from the Bible, she would be guilty of teaching God’s Word over a man).

3.2.5. interpreting Paul’s words in 1Timothy 2:11-12 as a prohibition against women ever teaching or speaking Scripture in church or during church (with or without men present) is also not without its problems: 1) take the example of Mindy and Paul, but this time Paul shows up late for church and misses most of the sermon. Given this understanding, Paul would not be able to ask Mindy to “catch him up” on what he missed until after church or until they left the church property. 2) this kind of thinking makes location the issue rather than who possesses the proper authority. But why would God care about that? Or what exactly does that say about women? (e.g., they are not smart/holy enough to teach in the church/men in the church). A biblical example that might help bring additional clarity to this issue: consider the high priest and the holy of holies which only he could enter. The reason for such exclusivity was not the place but the authority (or clearance) granted only to him. The principle is the same for women w/respect to teaching.

 

4. What this new (more accurate) understanding does not mean as it relates to women: that God has extended to them the office (and authority) of the priest/judge/elder/pastor (ordination) since this would:

4.1. be a direct violation of God’s created order and design (13 “first” = As the head or authority of humanity [i.e., for determining God’s creation mandate for humanity]). The woman was created as helper [i.e., a supporting role] – Gen 2:15-23; Contra: the beliefs of the cult of Artemis). It should also be mentioned that by allowing women to function as pastors, you are essentially supporting lesbian marriage since a woman has now taken the place of husband in the marriage – something also represented in the relationship between the pastor and the church [i.e., he is Christ’s earthly representative as husband to the church][3]).

4.2. expose the church to weakness since God has not equipped women w/the emotional fortitude to persevere against the fear and manipulation used by Satan to deceive women (“Eve”) (14 “deceived” = Taken by fear – Gen 3:1-6; 1Pe 3:7; 1Co 16:13; Isa 29:26; To say that God has not given any woman such fortitude is not the same as saying all men have been given the fortitude necessary to function as pastors/priests. Not all men possess it as sb clear from the example of Adam.)

4.3. be viewed by God as a damning forfeiture of the oversight roles women have been called to by God (15 “preserved” = Literally saved [Grk. sozo]. IOW: women pastors will go to hell; “the bearing of children” = An example of an oversight role given to women: being a mother—having oversight of her children).

 

5. Lastly, it must be said that given the vast misunderstanding surrounding this subject and the risk of others misinterpreting our practice, it is wise for us to limit the venues where we would (currently) allow a woman to teach (with men present), most especially the pulpit on Sunday since this is the time most associated with hearing from God’s ordained pastors – the man He has given the right to speak w/authority from His Word.

[1] At least one evangelical pastor (John Piper) holds to this interpretation. On his website, Desiring God, woman teacher Mary Kassian, makes the following statements, “I believe the question of how to honor Christ through the exercise of my teaching gift revolves around the issue of whether I’m acting like a church-father [one speaking w/authority]. Am I doing something that is, or will likely be construed as, setting the doctrinal and spiritual direction for my entire church family? It says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” Even if we don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or don’t understand it, the boundary is quite clear. Having the church-fathers authoritatively teach and instruct the congregation is God’s standard for the regular public meeting of the local church.”

[2] For those viewing prophecy as different than teaching consider: the word prophecy is quite often used to refer to what we would normally call teaching/preaching since, most often, the prophetic message contains nothing fantastical or new (e.g., the majority of OT prophecy is simply a reiteration of God’s laws, promises and curses). As such, when interpreting the term prophecy in Scripture, we should assume what is being communicated-unless otherwise stated, is simply impromptu preaching – or a message given to the speaker not previously planned. If prophecy was always of the supernatural nature, then how could the church judge (in the moment of reception) whether the speaker’s words were true?

[3] “The pastor represents Christ, the Husband, to the Church, His Bride…When he reads and preaches the Word, he symbolizes Christ, the Husband, speaking to His holy Bride (which is, by the way, one of the main reasons women cannot be pastors: they cannot publicly symbolize Christ the Husband to His Bride, the Church).” – Jeffrey J. Meyers (The Lord’s Service).

The Importance Of Pursuing Knowledge For The Christian

1. God made growing in knowledge necessary to possessing wisdom (i.e., the ability to make right choices and desire the right things). No one was ever wise who was also not growing in knowledge (Pro 2:6).

 

2. Wisdom (which again requires growing in knowledge) is necessary to salvation (or being and staying saved) and the primary way God interacts or has relationship w/us.

IOW: It is not through visual stimuli or emotional manipulation but the dissemination of knowledge. Hence the reason God didn’t give us pictures or feelings as the means to helping us get through this life and into heaven. He instead gave us a book filled with knowledge (i.e., the Bible) (2Ti 3:15-16; Col 2:3-4 “in whom” = In Jesus’ book [Joh 1:1]; Hence Jer 9:23-24).

 

3. Neglecting your own personal growth in knowledge (especially that found in God’s Word) will not only cause you to be a fool (become stupid), but guarantee a life filled with unnecessary hardship and calamity (Pro 1:20-28).

 

4. Hating knowledge (or refusing to continue to pursue knowledge) will lessen your fear of God, ability to identify danger or sin and eventually lead to permanent self-delusion and apostasy (Pro 1:29-33, 7:1-23, 26:12; Isa 5:13 and Hos 4:6; Eph 4:17-19 w/Psa 14:1 “corrupt”).

 

5. Understanding the consequences associated with lack of knowledge or ceasing to grow in knowledge, should cause you to value its possession and progress in your life above everything else (Pro 8:10-11, 20:15).

 

6. Though growing in our knowledge or understanding of Special Revelation (those truths of God discovered through the study of His Word [e.g., theology]) must be our primary focus if we are to avoid becoming a fool or the apostate, avoidance of such pitfalls requires also that we continue to grow in our knowledge (or understanding) of General Revelation (those truths of God discovered through the study of our world -i.e., those disciplines associated w/the arts and sciences [e.g., history, biology, physics, philosophy, psychology, etc.]) (Mat 16:1-4 = General Rev aids our understanding of Special Rev. Hence Rom 1:19-20; also Pro 6:6).

 

7. According to both Special and General Revelation, you are most likely a fool – someone who hates or lacks knowledge, if any of the following things characterize your life:

7.1. One bad decision after another (moral or otherwise) (Pro 19:3; Ecc 10:15 = Always losing his way, making bad decisions).

 

7.2. You struggle at times to understand how God’s Word or wisdom is righteous (Pro 8:8-9).

 

7.3. The excuses, “I wasn’t thinking”, “I don’t know what I was thinking” (Pro 13:16).

 

7.4. You would much rather be entertained rather than educated (Pro 15:14).

 

7.5. You fail to sense the urgency w/respect to pursuing knowledge (Pro 1:32).

 

7.6. You suffer from foot-in-mouth disease (Pro 10:14, 18:7; Ecc 10:12).

 

7.7. Learning hurts (is painful to your brain) (Pro 14:6).

 

7.8. You suck at listening but excel at presuming (Pro 18:2; 1Sa 15:22-23 [“idolatry”] w/Isa 5:13 and Jer 51:17 = Presumption/idolatry is often the product of empty gaps in our thinking/knowledge – i.e. our brains fill in the gaps w/assumptions that are false).

 

7.9. You find yourself questioning God or the things of God when you see wicked people who are happy and excelling (Psa 73:1-22).

 

7.10. You are hasty in your reactions and responses and rarely ever increase the knowledge of others by what you say (e.g., Two fridges, one full of delicious food, the other a single bottle of ketchup. What wb the result of a request that each bring out the best food they have? Due to its lack of additional choices, the fridge containing only ketchup will respond the quickest yet provide what is the least desirable – Pro 14:33 “known” = Made known immediately [by the speed of the fool’s response as well as the content of his words]; Ecc 10:3 = The fool’s life is characterized [“walks down the road” = Daily activity] by hasty reactions/responses and worthless thought [“demonstrates to everyone” = Quickly makes apparent by his responses/reactions]) (Also, Pro 10:21, 15:7, 19:2, 24:7, 29:20).

 

7.11. You lack the ability to be articulate when explaining things (Pro 14:7, 15:2, 17:7a).

 

7.12. English seems to be your second language though you don’t know any other (Pro 23:9).

 

7.13. You are easily influenced in your decisions (or convictions) by what feel or where the masses are (Pro 17:24 “eyes…on the ends of the earth” w/Ecc 2:14 “eyes in his head” = His decisions are the product of his knowledge not his feelings or the popular opinion of the masses).

 

7.14. You are more confident than the knowledge (or evidence) you possess would justify (Pro 12:15, 28:26; Dunning-Kruger affect).

 

7.15. You are not a friend of reading or books.

By books I mean those meant to teach you something not storybooks, novels or comics – things written for entertainment rather than education) (Deu 17:18-20; Pro 119:100; Isa 29:9-14; 2Ti 3:15-16).

Reading is still the number one way to retain knowledge and become wise. It is still the optimal or fastest way to build the neuro pathways (in your brain) necessary for good listening (or the accurate receival of what others say), ordering your thoughts (which directly affects your ability to be articulate) and mitigating assumptions or hasty (foolish) responses (since your mind now possesses sufficient data alleviating the need to fill gaps or the ability to respond in haste – i.e., you have too much to think about to respond in haste). Reading is also how you improve your understanding of the English language and the meaning of words (since all of that is part and parcel to reading). There is a reason (btw) that the older and wiser generations referred to those who struggled to read, as “dumb” and the TV as the “boob-tube” (since this is what those who attempted to receive knowledge through it would become).

 

7.16. What you do spend time reading does not challenge your thinking.

Learning (growing in knowledge) requires more than information (knowledge).

It requires also that we are challenging that thinking with opposing information or information that takes what we know to the next level. If all we do is read stuff that simply reinforces what we already know, then we not only stunt our ability to grow in knowledge but to become the wise thinking people such knowledge has as its goal. Reading what does not challenge you to grow and gain knowledge is a waste of time (Ecc 12:9-12 “excessive devotion to books [not educational/devoted to giving knowledge or wisdom] is wearying to the body [a waste of time]”).

 

CLOSING CHALLENGE: Read 4 educational books (each no less than 100 pages, one re: to the Bible/biblical topics/theology) by the end of August (parents: a great idea for your kids while on summer break and way to stop raising fools).

Making Sense of Galatians – Part 2

Summary of points 1 through 4 (from last week): Paul writes to the Galatian churches for the purpose of steering them away from the damning gospel of the “circumcision party” (2:12) who were preaching observance of the OC cleans laws (otherwise known as the “works of the law” or “law”) as necessary to salvation (justification). Gaining justification (a spiritually clean/right standing w/God) under the NC, is secured by faith in Jesus Christ for Jew and Gentile alike apart from any observance of the prior covenant’s clean laws. As such, what Paul is not condemning in this letter is observance of God’s OC moral commands, though how we understand them must be according to their new application in Christ (the “law of Christ”).

 

5. Why Paul took such a condemning position against the OC clean laws for NC salvation: to preserve God’s previous:

5.1. command (Deu 12:32 w/2:21-3:1 and 5:1-4 = The Law is a closed system)

5.2. promise (of Gentiles remaining Gentiles and yet being grafted into/adopted into Abraham’s family – Act 15:14-19/Amo 9:11-12) (3:27-29; 4:17, 6:12-13) = As stated last week, circumcision was a Jewish identity marker. The Judaizers did not want people in the NC who did first become “Jews” (i.e., take on Jewish identity through circumcision).

 

6. What the plan of salvation (or “gospel”) looked like for Paul under the NC: functionally, it was the same as the OC: you gain it by faith (which includes observing the prescribed NC signs/clean laws associated with such faith – e.g., baptism) and you maintain it through faithfulness ([gain] 3:26-28 [faith = baptism], 5:1-5, [maintain] 5:6, 13-14, 24-26).

 

7. The broad strokes of Paul’s argument (How Paul lays out his letter to the Galatians):

7.1. Perversion to the mechanics of salvation means preaching a different (or damning) gospel:

7.1.1. Gain perversion: To gain justification (be spiritually clean), a person still needs to observe the OC clean laws – including circumcision (1:6-9 w/2:1-5 w/11-16) = OC clean laws (“works of the law”; e.g., circumcision, separation from those not circumcised) were never able to truly justify. They offered temporary pass-over but never propitiation/real cleansing from sin (Rom 3:25), hence the reason everyone (including Jews) are required to put faith in Christ as the way to receive justification. Key point not to miss: the gospel problem is mechanical (what must a person do to be saved?) not historical (what did Christ do to save us? e.g., 1Co 15:1-4 w/12-17). In addition, by requiring observance of the OC clean laws for gaining justification, you are nullifying the need for Christ’s cross-work (since once more), the Law is a closed system (2:21-3:1, 5:1-4, also 5:18).

7.1.2. Maintain perversion: BC we have been justified by faith in Christ (versus through observance of the OC clean laws), we no longer have to maintain that justification through observance of the moral commands (2:17-20) = In the same way a person had to submit to God’s moral commands (“For through the Law I died unto the Law”) in order to live for Him under the OC (i.e., to maintain their saving covenant relationship), so also under the NC, a person must submit to Christ (“I have been crucified unto Christ…the life I now live…I live in faithfulness to [Grk. en pistei…tey {dative}] the Son of God”) and His new application of God’s moral commands – i.e., the “law of Christ” (6:2; 1Co 9:21). IOW: faith in Christ ≠ antinomianism (Act 21:21 [“forsake” = Grk. apostasia] -24 [“keeping the Law” = maintaining what you gained]).

7.2. The superior nature of justification gained by faith versus through observance of the OC clean laws is proven by:

7.2.1. the indwelling Spirit (miracles) (3:2-5)

7.2.2. the precedent set with Abraham and the promised blessings (3:6-9, 14)

7.2.3. the incongruency of the Law in general w/the Abrahamic covenant and blessings which were not gained by human effort (3:10-12, 15-18)

7.2.4. Christ’s removal of the curse associated with being Gentiles so that we could be included in Abraham (3:13-14).

7.3. The nation of Israel (one of the promises made to Abraham with regard to his natural descendants) received the OC clean laws as a temporary help (a “tutor”) for dealing with sin (becoming spiritually clean/being justified –again, acts of pass-over) until the time of the promised “seed” (Christ) who would be the permanent, propitiatory solution for gaining justification and “impart(ing) (eternal) life” (3:19-29).

7.4. To be a child of Abrahamic requires casting off the enslavement of the OC clean laws (4:1-31; do not be: [9] enslaved to “elemental things”, [31] “children of the bondwoman” [allegorical rep. of OC Israel as Ishmael]).

7.5. Freedom from observance of the OC clean laws:

7.5.1. is necessary to receiving justification through faith in Christ (5:1-[5] “we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness”) = We are gaining our righteousness by faith; (18 “if you are led by the Spirit [justified by faith], you [cannot be] under the Law”) = Seeking justification thru the OC clean laws; (6:14-16; [15] “a new creation” = Justification by faith, [16] “those who will walk by this rule peace and mercy” = Those who are justified by faith]; IOW: being justified by faith requires not seeking such justification thru the OC clean laws.

7.5.2. does not affect our obligation to keep the moral commands (law of Christ) as also necessary to getting to heaven (5:6 “faith working [maintained] through love” w/13-14; See also 16-26 [21] “will not inherit the kingdom of God” = Our salvation is dependent on our obedience; (6:1-10) [3] = Thinks he is something simply bc he possesses faith; [4] = Our confidence as Christians/those who have gained salvation by faith must reside in our performance {2Pe 1:5-11}; [5] = Each person is responsible for maintaining what he has gained; [6] = They must demonstrate through practice what they have learned; [10] = Faith working through love {5:6 w/13-14}]).

Making Sense of Galatians – Part 1

Galatians in one of the most confusing books in the NT. This confusion is exacerbated by the Evangelical’s false assumptions about the book’s legal language and the framework of salvation established by God in the Bible. This short series will provide the Christian with the information needed to remove such confusion and make sense of Paul’s important letter to the Galatian churches.

1. What prompted Paul to write the letter to the Galatians:

The invasion of a group of Jewish Christians (otherwise known as the Judaizers or “party of the circumcision” – 2:12) who were teaching that salvation required observance of the OC clean laws [spiritually clean/righteous/justified] (circumcision [2:3, 7-9, 12, 5:2-3, 6, 11, 6:12-13, 15], separation from those not circumcised [2:11-13], Sabbath holidays [4:10]). Paul – who planted the Galatian churches during his 1st missionary journey, (Acts 13-14: Perga, Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe), condemns these individuals as “false brethren” (2:4) and their teaching as a “different gospel” (1:6-9).

2. Why Paul was confident that his gospel (which did not require the observance of the clean laws to be saved) was the true gospel:

2.1. Direct revelation from Jesus Christ (1:11-12).

2.2. Prior confirmation from the “pillars” (James [half-brother of Jesus, apostle and senior pastor of the Jerusalem church], Cephas [the apostle Peter] and John [the apostle]) of the Jerusalem church (2:1-2) = Paul recognized the authority of the church’s leaders – especially in gospel matters; (2:3-5 “liberty”) = Release from the clean laws (Jam 1:25, 2:12). (2:6a “what they were makes no difference to me, God shows no partiality”) = Though Paul recognized (and was submissive to) the authority of the church’s leaders, he also recognized that such authority was by proxy. It only existed as long as they were in agreement with God. (2:6b “those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me”) = Their gospel proved to be no different than mine.

2.3. Faith in Jesus (His death) had replaced them as the new clean law/way to gain righteousness/justification (2:16, 3:8-9, 5:1-5; Rom 3:31 w/Act 21:20-21).

3. How Paul became aware of the Judaizers’ presence in Galatia:

An incident at Paul’s home church, Antioch (2:11-13) = Because of the Judaizers (sent by James and the Jerusalem church), Peter, Barnabas and other Jewish Christians were separating themselves/would not eat with the uncircumcised Gentile Christians in Antioch. (2:14 “live like Jews”) = Live observing the clean laws. Antioch sent Paul to the Jerusalem church to resolve the matter/determine whose gospel was correct. There Paul changed the mind of Peter and James (Act 14:26-15:19; v10 w/1 and 5 = The “yoke” of the clean laws). Since there is no mention of the church’s ruling (or letter – Act 15:20-31), it is more than likely that Paul wrote the Galatians letter before his trip to Jerusalem (possibly on the way).

4. Why we can be confident that what Paul is condemning in the Judaizer’s gospel is not (as assumed by Evangelical’s) the entirety of the OC Law or the propagation of a works-based salvation:

4.1. The initial mention of the problem is related to the clean laws (2:1-5 “circumcision”)

4.2. Paul frequently pairs his mention of the various clean laws (most especially circumcision) with “works of the law” (or “law”) and contrasts them with justification by faith/the cross (2:12-16, 5:1-4, 11, 6:12-16). If Paul saw all of God’s laws as problematic to the issue of justification, then why does he limit his examples to only those things associated w/the clean laws? The same is true in every other epistle where Paul speaks against the Law. His examples are limited only to those things related to the clean laws – most especially circumcision, God’s special identity marker for the Jews (e.g., Rom 3:28-30, 4:1-11).

4.3. The massive problems associated w/thinking any Jew would endorse a works-based system of salvation (3:12 “He who practices them shall live by them”) = Evangelicals view Paul as teaching that the OC (or the Law) establishes an impossible works-based system of salvation. The Judaizers (they believe) were too arrogant to recognize their past which proved their inability to achieve this impossible standard and instead seek God’s mercy – the purpose or intention (per Evan) behind its establishment by God. The massive problems associated w/ this kind of thinking:

4.3.1. Gal 3:12 is an allusion to Lev 18:5 which cannot be establishing a work-based system of salvation since the Jews receiving it were already in saving covenant relationship with God (Exo 24:7-8; e.g., Lev 16:34 [Yom Kippur]; Psa 85:1-4, 103:1-5 w/15-18, 132:16). The only other way to understand God’s words in Lev 18:5 is as maintenance: the Jews needed to maintain the saving covenant relationship they had already received by grace through vows of faith.

4.3.2. God’s constant punishment of His people in the OT is due to their lawless easy-believism (similar to the Evangelical FAG: the law is “nice but not necessary”) – not their “arrogant” attempts at lawfulness. This was the problem of the Pharisees as well – the most likely identity of the Judaizers (Act 15:5) (Mat 23:28-32; See also Luk 18:9-14 “pharisee” = Lawless hypocrite, giving the appearance of lawfulness but – unlike the publican, unwilling to repent, do justice and truly be obedient to God’s laws. See Mat 15:3-9; Luk 7:30 w/Luk 3:1-14; e.g., publican – Luk 19:1-10).

4.3.3. God’s standard is doable (Deu 28:1-2 w/Deu 30:11-14; Luther’s two false assumptions leading to his FAG invention: 1] w-b salv. {Luther was a Roman Catholic monk}, 2] inability of man {The Bondage Of The Will}).

4.4. Paul confirms the moral commands as another necessary (and continuing) condition of salvation we are responsible for producing (5:5-6, 12-21) = Notice: 1) we are the responsible agents (13, 16), 2) we will not “inherit the kingdom of God” if we fail to produce them (21). These two things not only prove that Paul is not condemning the entirety of the Law but that the FAG is false since anything we are responsible for producing that is necessary to salvation constitutes another instrumental condition of salvation (WCF, “faith is the sole instrument of salvation.”).

Atonement With Benefits: A Brief Theology of God’s Other Help in Salvation

1. Under the OC, God promised to help His people through regeneration.

(Deu 30:6) “circumcise your heart” = Repent/Remove your disloyalty to Me and My laws; separate/set yourself apart in loyal obedience to Me and My laws (Act 7:39 w/7:51). The purpose: “to love to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” = To be undivided in loyalty to God (Deu 6:5-15 w/Deu 10:12 w/20 and Deu 13:1-4 = Love to God means undivided loyalty; Deu 10:20, 13:4 [“cling”] same word as Gen 2:24 “joined” = To cleave or stick closely to, to show undivided loyalty. To love God w/all of our heart and soul, etc. is therefore idiomatic for marital loyalty/love). Circumcision of the heart (which fosters this marital love) is the same as receiving a new heart/new spirit (Eze 11:19-20 [promise to the exiles returning from the Babylonian exile]) = Notice, the result is the same as heart circumcision: to foster love (marital love) in God’s people (v20). Both passages (Deu 30 and Eze 11) are using the language scholars associate with regeneration (or new birth/being born again/becoming a new creation; e.g., Eze 36:26-27). Regeneration was therefore true under the OC just as it is under the NC. IOW: regeneration is not new to the NC. Hence the reason Jesus says what He does to Nicodemus (Joh 3:1-10 [Deu 30:6 w/Jer 9:25-26]).

 

2. God’s help to His OC people was predicated on them first producing this regeneration by their own efforts.

Though demonized by Evangelicalism, the statement, “God helps those who help themselves” is true (Deu 30:1-5 [6 “Moreover the LORD God will…”]; Lev 26:41; Deu 10:16; Jer 4:4; Eze 18:31).

3. In the OT, God promised to help His people under the NC through not only regeneration but also by indwelling them with His Spirit.

(Eze 36:25-27 “cause” [Heb. ‘asah = to prepare – Exo 12:16, 39); Jer 24:7, 32:38-39; Joe 2:28-29 “all mankind” = Jews and Gentiles will receive the indwelling Spirit; Isa 32:15, 44:3).

 

4. The NT confirms the fulfillment of God’s promised help of regeneration and the indwelling Spirit.

1) Regeneration/New Creation/Born Again (Joh 3:3-5; 2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; 1Pe 1:23), 2) Indwelling Spirit (Joh 14:16, 15:26, 16:5-15; Act 2:38 [Jews], Ac 10:44-45 [Gentiles]).

 

5. Because of the propitiation associated with our regeneration and the accompanying indwelling Spirit, the help God gives under the NC is far superior to that given under the OC.

(Rom 7:21-8:4): 1) Propitiation along w/our regeneration (8:1-3 w/Tit 3:5 “the washing of [included in] regeneration”) = Hearts/spirits truly cleansed from sin and therefore also free from its power (7:21-25 [Rom 3:25 w/6:1-7 = Propitiation-fueled regeneration]), 2) Indwelling Spirit (8:4 = Empowering, interceding and leading [vv5-30]).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. As before, God’s help does not negate the condition/pre-requisite of our own efforts.

(Jer 31:31-34) = All those coming into saving covenant relationship w/God under the NC (33c “I will be their God and they will be My people” [Heb 8:8-12, 10:16-17]) will take the same kind of vow as those who initially came under the OC: a vow (of faith) to obey all of God’s commandments (Exo 24:7) (33a, “ I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it”; Hos 2:19-20). Jeremiah’s generation were coming into the OC with no such vows or commitment (e.g., Jer 2:1-8, 20-21, 32, 4:4, 8:7). This and the fact that the NC wb “forever”(vv35-40) is what would make it different than how the OC was treated in Jeremiah’s day (31-32, “not like the covenant I made with their fathers…My covenant which they [Jeremiah’s generation] broke”). By this vow of obedience those coming into the NC will: 1) “know the LORD” (34a [an allusion to Jer 9:23-24; 1Jo 2:4]), 2) receive justification/propitiation (34b [Exo 24:8; Eze 36:25; 1Pe 1:1-2]). Our commitment to repentance/obedience is once more God’s prerequisite to helping us (Act 5:32) = Point not to miss: our repentance/obedience precedes the help of the Sprit. IOW: He is not the cause of our obedience. The Holy Spirit intercedes and directs (Act 8:29, 39, 19:21, 20:22-23; Rom 8:5 w/26-30; Gal 5:16-17), influences and inspires (Rom 8:23; Act 2:17, 10:19 w/11:12, 10:45-47, 11:28, 15:28, 19:6, 21:4, 11), empowers, equips and enlightens (Act 4:8, 31, 6:10, 7:55, 16:14, 20:28; Rom 8:11, 13, 16, 9:1, 15:13, 19, 30; 1Co 2:13-14, 12:7; Eph 3:16; 2Pe 1:3-4; Phi 2:13; 2Ti 1:14; 1Jo 3:24; Jud 20; Rev 1:10), comforts, engenders affection and encourages (Act 9:31; Rom 14:17; Gal 4:6; Phi 1:19, 2:1; 1Th 1:6) only those who humble/submit themselves to His leading (Jam 4:5-7; Rom 8:4 w/14; Gal 5:25). Through unrepentance and disobedience we can/will resist, quench, grieve and enrage the HS shutting off His ability to help, even making Him our enemy (Act 7:51 [notice “uncircumcised in heart”]; 1Th 5:19; Eph 4:30 w/Isa 63:10; Heb 10:26-30).

 

7. God’s prerequisite for helping His people is justified by our moral ability.

Were we unable to repent and obey, God’s prerequisite would be unjust (Eze 18:1-32 [33:1-20] “the fathers eat sour grapes; but the children’s teeth are set on edge…the way of the Lord is not right” = Because of the sins/sinful behavior of our parents, we are incapable of turning from our sins/obeying God. Therefore God’s judgment against us is not just/right; Eze 18:23 [33:11]) “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” = This is impossible for God to say if it is impossible for us to obey). Scripture however communicates our ability to repent and obey (Deu 30:11-14).

 

8. These truths are what must inform our understanding of passages like 2Timothy 2:26 and Ephesians 2:5.

1) (2Ti 2:26) “God may grant them [the help of] repentance” = The reason Paul speaks about this in terms of possibility rather than a guarantee is because of the prerequisite necessary to receiving such help from God: that person’s own efforts in repentance and obedience. In this light consider, (Act 10:34-35 w/11:18). 2) (Eph 2:5) “even when we were dead…[God] made us alive” = Our deadness in sin does not indicate moral inability but rather God’s willingness at the time to help us (see vv11-12). However, with the coming of Jesus, God’s mercy (v4) was now available to Gentiles (Paul’s audience in chapter two). As such what is meant by “dead in our transgressions” is “without God” (i.e., God’s help) – something He is now willing to do (i.e., He is now willing to “[make] us alive”/regenerate us), if we will (first) take a vow of faith/faithfulness to Christ as our Savior (i.e., to “regenerate” ourselves [circumcise our hearts/get a new heart/spirt – Consider Luk 1:17, 8:15; Rom 2:15, 25-26; also Rom 6:17-18 [they gave themselves new hearts before they were cleansed/freed from sin]). This is His “gift” to us (as Gentiles) (vv5-8).

Instructions On How Those Born Again Grow Up Into Their Salvation And Realize The Hope Of Heaven

A) What this instruction indicates: being born again is not enough to get to heaven.

B) Why all of this is relevant: 1) Persecution 2) Perverse People 3) Prowling Devil

1) Be Increasing In Intelligence

2) Be Obsessed With Getting To Heaven

3) Be Radical In Removal of Temptation and Unholy Influences

4) Driven By Fearful and Overwhelming Reciprocity

5) Be Deeply and Sincerely Loyal To Christ’s Church and People

Destroying The Death Star – Part 3

Evangelicals believe their Faith-Alone Gospel (FAG) to be ironclad. However, like the Death Star, this formidable foe hides several fatal flaws. Those possessing the plans to the Death Star are able to expose such flaws and not only destroy it, but the evil Evangelical empire that has used the FAG to destroy countless lives.

The plans to the Death Star = The FAG message:

Salvation is earned through perfect obedience to God’s Law. Since however this is humanly impossible, salvation requires that we put faith (alone) in the God-man Jesus Christ, who not only died to pay for our sins, but lived to fulfill our obligation of obedience. God therefore imputes to those who put faith in Christ, both His propitiatory death, and the merit of His perfect life. As a result, the Christian is afforded a justification that requires no duty to the Law. Christians obey only as a consequence of their regeneration and the indwelling Spirit.

The 3 fatal flaws revealed in the Death Star’s plans (i.e., FAG):

1. The Merit of Perfection

“Salvation is earned through perfect obedience to God’s Law.”

“Man’s relationship to God in creation was based on works. What Adam failed to achieve, Christ, the second Adam, succeeded in achieving. Ultimately the only way one can be justified is by works.” – R.C. Sproul (Getting the Gospel Right)

2. The Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ

“Since however this is humanly impossible, salvation requires that we put faith (alone) in the God-man Jesus Christ Who not only died to pay for our sins but lived to fulfill our obligation of obedience. God therefore imputes to those who put faith in Christ, both His propitiatory death, and the merit of His perfect life.” “If Christ had only earned forgiveness of sins for us, then we would not merit heaven. Our guilt would have been removed, but we would simply be in the position of neutrality. For this reason, Christ had to live a life of perfect obedience to God in order to earn righteousness for us. He had to obey the law for his whole life on our behalf so that the positive merits of his perfect obedience would be counted for us. Sometimes this is called Christ’s ‘active obedience’ while his suffering and dying for our sins is called his ‘passive obedience.’” – Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology)

The “Skywalker Shot” w/respect to the merit of perfection and the imputation of the active obedience of Christ: (Gal 2:21).

3. One-stage justification, the consequence of works and a monolithic view of the Law.

“As a result, the Christian is afforded a justification that requires no duty to the Law. Christians obey only as a consequence of their regeneration and the indwelling Spirit.”

3.1. The third fatal flaw of the Evangelical (or those holding to the FAG) is the belief that justification exists not in two stages (1. initial justification: gain by faith alone; 2. final justification: maintain by faith and faithfulness) – the biblical view, but rather that it exists only in one (gain by faith alone and remain by faith alone). Works (or obedience) are simply the result (or “consequence”) of this one-stage justification and the Spirit’s fruit in the believer’s life.

3.2. Westminster Seminary (CA) professor, R. Scott Clark, confirms “one-stage justification” to be the historical position of Evangelical Protestantism (in contrast to some of Evangelicalism’s most popular past and present pastors):

“The magisterial Protestant churches (i.e., the Lutheran and Reformed) and their theologians did not speak of, teach, or confess a “two-stage” doctrine of justification… One of the principal sources of the doctrine that we are initially justified by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) but that by good works we are ‘maintaining a right standing with God’ (Piper, 1999), that ‘you are not saved through faith alone’ (Desiring God, 2017), ‘that final salvation in the age to come depends on the transformation of life’ (Bethlehem Baptist Elder Statement) was the English pastor and theologian Richard Baxter (1615–91). He is most remembered for his pastoral work in Kidderminster, which he described in his book, The Reformed Pastor (1656)1… The Reformed churches confessed ‘faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness’ and ‘And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.’ The Reformers were well aware of the medieval doctrine of “get in by grace, stay in by works.” The orthodox Reformed in the 16th and 17th centuries rejected that doctrine in favor of ‘get in by grace, stay in by grace’ (as it were).”– R. Scott Clark (“Richard Baxter’s Initial and Final Justification”, Heidelblog)

3.3. R. Scott Clark’s reference to Richard Baxter and John Piper reveals the confusion that exists over justification within Evangelicalism. Piper has been vocal about his belief in a “two-stage justification” since 1999 in various sermons or written forms of communication:

“Works are not acceptable in the moment of initial justification. But when James affirms ‘justification by works’ he means that works are absolutely necessary in the ongoing life of a Christian to confirm and prove the reality of the faith which justifies..…For James, ‘justification by works’ means maintaining a right standing with God by faith along with the necessary evidence of faith, namely the works of love.” (“Does James Contradict Paul?”, 1999 Sermon)…The stunning Christian answer is: sola fide—faith alone. But be sure you hear this carefully and precisely: He says right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone. There are conditions for attaining heaven, but no others for entering a right relationship with God. In fact, one must already be in a right relationship with God by faith alone in order to meet the other conditions (Foreword to Tom Schreiner’s book: Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught…And Why It Matters, 2015)…These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven (Hebrews 12:14)…In justification, faith receives the finished work of Christ performed outside of us and counted as ours—imputed to us…In final salvation at the last judgment, faith is confirmed by the sanctifying fruit it has borne, and we are saved by that fruit and that faith…So, we should not speak of getting to heaven by faith alone in the same way we are justified by faith alone. Essential to the Christian life and necessary for final salvation is the killing of sin (Romans 8:13) and the pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).” (“Does God really save us by faith alone?”, 2017 Sermon)…Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation (“The Justification Debate: A Primer”, 2017).”

3.4. Piper recently re-affirmed his belief in final justification – or the need to maintain our initial justification through obedience by tweeting: “justified by faith alone? Yes. “finally saved” by faith alone? No.

3.5. Piper’s view is shared by other popular Evangelicals, including Norman Shepherd, Douglas Wilson2, Rich Lusk, Tom Schreiner and Mark Jones.

3.6. In Shepherd’s “Thirty-four Theses on Justification in Relation to Faith, Repentance and Good Works” (1978) 3 he states,

“Thesis 21: The exclusive ground of the justification of the believer in the state of justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but his obedience, which is simply the perseverance of the saints in the way of truth and righteousness, is necessary to his continuing in a state of justification (Heb 3:6, 14).Thesis 22: The righteousness of Jesus Christ ever remains the exclusive ground of the believer’s justification, but the personal godliness of the believer is also necessary to his continuing in a state of justification in the judgment of the last day (Mat 7:21-23; 25:31-46; Heb 12:14).Thesis 23: Because faith which is not obedient faith is dead faith, and because repentance is necessary for the pardon of sin included in justification, and because abiding in Christ by keeping his commandments (Joh 15:5, 10; 1Jo 3:13, 24) are all necessary for continuing in a state of justification, good works, works done in true faith, according to the law of God, for his glory, being the new obedience wrought by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer united to

1 Baxter said, “We are justified by sincere obedience to Christ, as the secondary part of the condition of our justification; is evident also from these following Scriptures: Mat 12:37; Mar 11:25-26; Luk 6:37; Mat 6:12, 14-15; 1Jo 1:9; Act 8 :22; Act 3: 19, 22; 1 Pe 4:18; Rom 6: 16; 1 Pe 1: 2, 22.” (Thesis 77). Clark comments, “Baxter rejected the Protestant account of grace and works in favor of the medieval view that when Paul says “works” he means the Mosaic religious ceremonies [or clean laws) and not our good works). He rejected the Protestant understanding of grace (favor earned for us by Christ) and works (our good works).

2 For support see Wilson’s “The Objectivity of the Covenant” (2003) and his adherence to Federal Vision whose fourth tenet (The Necessity of Obedience and Good Works to Final Salvation) states, “The Bible teaches justification by faith and the necessity of a Christian life of obedience and good works to final justification, the declaration we hope one day to hear: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”

3 Though able to defend his position biblically, Dr. Shepherd, a professor at Westminster Seminary (PA) since 1963 was dismissed in 1982 for his theses.

Christ, though not the ground of his justification, are nevertheless necessary for salvation from eternal condemnation and therefore justification (Rom 6:16, 22; Gal 6:7-9).”

3.7. In 2015, Mark Jones took the time to write an article not only supporting Piper’s position, but also its agreement with historical Reformed doctrine:

“I’ve been told that some folks are taking issue with John Piper…who agrees with [Tom] Schreiner, we are ‘right with God by faith alone’ but we do not ‘attain heaven by faith alone.’ He adds that ‘there are other conditions for attaining heaven.’ Based on what I believe is a charitable and straight-forward reading of Piper, there is not a single word in his Foreword [to Schreiner’s book]that seems out of place in terms of the basic Reformed approach to justification, salvation, and conditionality. Piper affirms strongly and clearly that works do not contribute to the acquisition of salvation. But Piper also wants to affirm that good works should be considered necessary for the obtaining of salvation4. I fail to understand how this idea isn’t present in literally dozens of Reformed luminaries from the Early Modern period. As Francis Turretin says: ‘This very thing is no less expressly delivered concerning future glory. For since good works have the relation of the means to the end (Jn. 3:5, 16; Mt. 5:8); of the ‘way’ to the goal (Eph. 2:10; Phil 3:14); of the sowing to the harvest (Gal. 6:7,8)…of labor to the reward (Mt. 20:1); of the contest to the crown (2 Tim. 2:5; 4:8), everyone sees that there is the highest and an indispensable necessity of good works for obtaining glory. It is so great that it cannot be reached without them (Heb. 12:14; Rev. 21:27).’ Again, Piper says we do “not attain heaven by faith alone” and Turretin speaks of the ‘Indispensable necessity of good works for obtaining glory’. I don’t see why we can’t agree that they are saying essentially the same thing; and, indeed, if they are, what is the problem? For those who have trouble grasping how Piper can affirm that justification is by faith alone, but that entering glory is not by faith alone, we must keep in mind the well-known distinction between the right to life versus the possession of life. Herman Witsius makes a distinction between the right to life (i.e., acquisition) and the possession of life. The former is ‘assigned to the obedience of Christ, that all the value of our holiness may be entirely excluded.’ However, regarding the latter, ‘our works…which the Spirit of Christ works in us, and by us, contribute something to the latter.’ Similarly, Petrus van Mastricht once wrote: “in so far as God, whose law we attain just now through the merit alone of Christ, does not want to grant possession of eternal life, unless [it is] beyond faith with good works previously performed. We received once before the right unto eternal life through the merit of Christ alone. But God does not want to grant the possession of eternal life, unless there are, next to faith, also good works which precede this possession, Heb. 12:14; Matt. 7:21; 25:34-36; Rom. 2:7, 10.’ Is there anything in Piper’s Foreword that could not have come from the pen of Witsius or Turretin or Boston or Ball or Owen or Rutherford or Mastricht? I’m having trouble understanding what the problem is both biblically and historically. In fact, I can point to works by authors in the Reformed tradition who have stated the matter perhaps a little more strongly than Piper does (e.g., Mastricht, Davenant). It seems one would have to have a built-in bias against Piper – perhaps because of his relationship to Daniel Fuller or perhaps for some other reason – to raise questions about the orthodoxy of his Foreword. And, let’s be honest, it is a serious thing to raise questions about the orthodoxy of someone on this point. It isn’t like we’re talking about complementarianism. Piper speaks of good works as necessary for attaining heaven. Reformed theologians have spoken of good works as necessary for possessing heaven. In my mind, that’s the same thing. And, quite frankly, I think that’s the better approach rather than causing unnecessary division where there really doesn’t need to be any. In sum, as Piper says, ‘there are other conditions for attaining heaven’. Or, by someone else: ‘The New Testament lays before us a vast array of conditions for final salvation. Not only initial repentance and faith, but perseverance in both, demonstrated in love toward God and neighbor…Holiness, which is defined by love of God and neighbor…is the indispensable condition of our glorification: no one will be seated at the heavenly banquet who has not begun, however imperfectly, in new obedience.’ And if you don’t like that last quote, you can take it up with Michael Horton [R. Scott’s colleague at Westminster Seminary, CA]. But I happen to agree with it completely.” (“In Support of John Piper”, Reformation 21)5. 3.8. Consider also Jones’ remark, “Good works are necessary for salvation, but not for justification.” (“A Critique of Jesus + Nothing = Everything”)

3.9. Rejection of this two-stage understanding is the reason many of Evangelicalism’s other popular figures (e.g., Phil Johnson) immediately accuse anyone espousing the necessity of works (or obedience) to salvation to be Roman Catholics or the Galatian Judaizers6. They fail to understand there exists a third option to understanding the relationship of works (or obedience) to justification: 1) Roman Catholicism: F+W=J, 2) Evangelical/FAG: F=J+W, 3) Covenantal Nomism/Marriage Covenant Gospel: F=J1 (Rom 3:28); F+W=J2 (Heb 12:14; Jam 2:24; Rev 20:11-15; Rom 2:6-11).

3.10. That being said, admitting to a “two-stage justification”, one that makes obedience necessary to heaven, is the minority position within Evangelicalism. And for good reason. Though it is the biblical position, it betrays the message communicated by the FAG. If salvation ultimately requires more than faith, then it cannot be said to be by “faith-alone.”

3.11. Those Evangelicals (e.g., Piper, Schreiner, Jones) who adopt the two-stage position, attempt to preserve their faith-alone position by placing works (or obedience) in the category of consequence (i.e., they are the inevitable result and evidence of saving faith and/or the Spirit). Such attempts however do not do justice to how the Scripture communicates those works (or obedience). Rather Scripture communicates that:

3.11.1. We (not the Spirit) are the ones responsible for producing works (obedience) as the essential component to (not evidence of) faith and other necessary condition for securing final justification (2Pe 1:5-11; Jam 2:14-26 w/1:19-2:1, 8-13//The question being answered: Can faith alone “save” [v14]? The answer is “No. It requires also our [not the Spirit’s] works [v18 “my works”]. IOW: “faith by itself [alone] is dead…useless” [v17, 21, 26]. Our “works must accompany our “faith” to secure [final] justification [v24]) 7.

3.11.2. We can fail to produce them and forfeit our justification/salvation (Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:1-6).

3.12. A major impediment to the Evangelical’s ability to discern the biblical gospel (or see the flaws in the FAG) is their monolithic view of the Law (i.e., the NT term refers to the entirety of God’s OT Law [never a subset]– especially those passages [seemingly] calling for its abrogation – e.g., Rom 10:4).

3.13. Deeper biblical analysis reveals the necessity of division or making a distinction within the Law between “works of the Law” (ceremonial/clean laws) and the Moral Law (all other commands). SEE Luther’s cap argument (Jam 2:24 w/Rom 3:28): 1) Whatever James is referring as works is different from whatever Paul is referring to as works. 2) The works James refers to are necessary to salvation (Jam 2:24) whereas the works Paul refers to are not necessary for salvation (Rom 3:28). 3) The works referred to by James are related to the Law (Jam 2:1-13 is the context for Jam 2:14-26; See also Jam 1:19-27) and the same is true for the works referred to by Paul (Rom 3:28 “works of the law”). 4) Conclusion: [4.1.] Since both James and Paul are referring to works related to the Law and yet only those works referred to by James are necessary for salvation, there must be a distinction in the Law (at the very least, a bipartite distinction: laws no longer needed for salvation versus laws that remain necessary for salvation). [4.2.] Any person not making such a distinction in their understanding of the Law (especially when reading Paul or James) – or interpreting Paul as against the entirety of the Law as necessary to salvation (e.g., Evangelicals), is grossly misinterpreting their bibles (e.g., FAG Evangelicals)8.

Closing Contemplation:

“Silence is consent; and we must speak to this issue when we are able. After extensively reviewing the work of (Antinomian) John Biddle, a rather exasperated John Owen said: ‘I am weary of considering such trash.’ Yet Owen did so because he loved Christ and his church. However painful it might be, ministers and theologians in our circles must deal with these issues, sometimes publicly if they are able, because of how many of Christ’s sheep are being influenced by this defective theology. If we do not, perhaps our silence really is consent.” – Mark Jones, (Antinomianism)

4 Herein lies the crux of many of the Evangelical’s problems (and continual embrace of the false FAG): the failure to recognize the non sequitur created by saying works are not necessary for the acquisition of salvation while equally admitting the necessity of works to the obtaining of salvation. 5 In conjunction with the previous words, Dr. Jones makes the following observation in his book, Antinomianism, “As someone with some scholarly acquaintance with post-Reformation Reformed theology, particularly in the area of Puritanism, I have been dismayed at some of the theology that passes as reformed, when in fact it has corollaries to seventeenth-century antinomianism.” 6 Phil Johnson recently tweeted against NEWPRO (who holds to a two-stage justification): “Your doctrine & behavior are genetically identical to the heretics who hounded the apostle Paul. Re-read Galatians. It was written to answer the exact doctrinal error you’re pushing.”

7 Evangelicals (e.g., James White) make Jam 2:14-26 about works as evidence of faith. Though they do function in that way (v18), the main thrust of James’ argument is their essential nature as an additional component to salvation. If evidence were apostle’s focus, then his argument in verse 17 becomes nonsensical: why is “faith by itself” deemed to be “useless” (or nonexistent) simply because it possesses no (ostensible) evidence of works? The nature of something’s existence is not dependent on evidence. Only in the epistemological sense is such an argument relevant (e.g., a murder that possesses no evidence identifying a killer does not mean no such person exists). In addition, White inserts a spurious definition of δικαιοῦται [“shown to be justified” v. “justified”] (vv21, and 24-25) to support his claim and avoid the instrumentality of works proven by the conjunctive (parallelism) that follows. See The God Who justifies by James White. 8 Historical and scholarly support for such distinctions: “We must bear in mind that common division of the whole law of God published by Moses into moral, ceremonial and judicial laws.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4); “Paul could discern distinctions within God’s law which set certain commandments apart as applicable to all Christians, while others were irrelevant. This is tantamount to the division between the moral and the ceremonial law. Augustine introduces a distinction between the moral and the symbolical [clean/ceremonial] precepts of the law: ‘For example, Thou shalt not covet is a moral precept; Thou shalt circumcise every male on the eighth day is a symbolical precept.’ By symbolical precepts Augustine clearly means what would later become known as the ceremonial law…” (J.F. Bayes, The Three-Fold Division of the Law)

Covenant Life Groups

 

(Act 5:42) = Notice there are two different venues where the apostles met with the church for teaching and preaching: 1) “Temple” = larger venue (Act 5:12 – “Solomon’s Portico” = Court area outside the Temple): On the Lord’s Day, the entire church came together for corporate worship (~15k people), 2) “house to house” = smaller venue: During the week, church members wb divided into smaller groups and meet in different houses. Hence the reason the text says this was taking place “every day.” Every day of the week was devoted to some form of meeting. Either corporate worship or a community group. The large number of church members, the small size of the 1st century house and the fact that everyone relied on the apostle’s direct teaching (nothing had yet been written down), meant different community groups “every day” of the week just to get through all the people.

 

Here then is the biblical basis for community groups: the practice of the early church: Temple court for church on Sundays – and every other day of the week, different community groups to accommodate all the people. This practice is also mentioned in (Act 2:46: Temple-church and community groups meeting in homes).

 

(Act 2:42) = Most believe this verse is in reference to the community groups (esp. since as we saw, v46 mentions the breaking of bread being connected to the meeting in the home – versus as part of their Sunday worship – Act 20:7: this ML refers to the LT [“breaking of bread”: generic reference to hospitality: eating/enjoying food together]). As such, there are four things that are to be taking place in these community groups: 1) apostles’ teaching (or sermon), 2) fellowship (the word means “to share” as in share our lives w/each other), 3) breaking of bread (i.e. hospitality), 4) prayer.

 

What then community groups/Covenant Life Groups will look like for us = Small groups of church family meeting mid-week in a host home to: 1) discuss questions related to the most recent sermon, 2) share our lives with one another (including our backstories), 3) experience the hospitality of enjoying good food together, 4) pray for one another.

 

Reasons you should be excited about being part of our community groups (Covenant Life Groups) (this new addition to our church:

 

5.1. Retainage: Community groups will promote better retainage of those biblical truths established each week during the sermon 1) Rediscussion = Retainage (2Pe 1:12-15) “stir you up by way of reminder” = Rediscuss what was already discussed causes it to be “stir[red] up” [thoroughly mixed it into) your brain “so that…[we] may be able at any time to recall these things” = The result of such stirring/mixing thru rediscussion: retainage. The average adult retains ~5% of what they hear in an hour-long sermon (90% is gone after the first ten minutes). That number increases to 50% or more if the material is rediscussed. Though that may still seem disappointing, consider it from the perspective of pages. 50% means 5 full pages of information. The average hour-long sermon covers about ten pages of material (sheet filled front and back = 2500-3500 words which is 10 plus pages in a standard book). From that perspective, 50% is a lot!

2) Anticipation of rediscussion = Retainage. Knowing that I need to participate in the rediscussion of the sermon in my community group, encourages more focus (and better retention of the material) on Sunday (e.g. take more handwritten notes = better listening and cognitive function = increase in initial retention [“A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes On A Laptop”, Scientific American]).

 

5.2. Growth: Community groups will give you the ability to fulfill your obligation to grow the kingdom (Eph 4:11-16) = Based on these verses, there are two things God’s pastors/teachers are to “equip the saints for [to do]”: 1) “the work of ministry” = External growth/Evangelism (vv11-12a), 2) “building up the body of Christ” = Internal Growth in maturity and loyalty (vv12b-16). We should view the church as the ammunition depot: the place we go each week to get refueled and restocked for the work we wb doing during the week to advance our King’s kingdom (externally and internally). It sb mentioned that community groups are a far more conducive environment for evangelism than the “alien” and often intimidating world of the church service. IOW: it is much easier to invite people to our community group than church. (Hence Act 2:47). Community groups are therefore a great way to make sure we are not the last guy in Jesus’ parable of the talents (in Mat 25). On that note, community groups only work (esp. as it re: to evangelism) if we are all committed to attending and participating. No one wb encouraged to join our ranks if the community group they attend is sparse and filled with awkward silence. Your presence and participation can make the difference in bringing someone to Christ (i.e. God gives points for assists when it comes to evangelism – Joh 4:35-38).

 

5.3. Identity: Community groups also help us get rid of the sinful self-oriented identity given at our birth and possessed by Satan and gain the team-oriented identity possessed by our King (the one needed also to get to heaven) (Mar 10:42-45) “rulers” = Though the Greek word can refer to any ruler good or bad, when coupled with the idea of lording it over, it refers to the latter. It is the kind of ruler whose decisions or actions only serve self-interest rather than what is good/fair for everyone. It is the kind of ruler who leads by position and power and never by example. This is the kind of ruler Jesus is referring to when He uses this word in relation to Satan in (Joh 12:31).

The point then NOT to miss: though Jesus was a leader/ruler, He did not lead by power or position, but by example and decisions that established equity – i.e. what was good and fair/served everyone (versus just Himself). IOW: Jesus’ identity was team-oriented: His approval of self –or how He determined whether self was successful was determined by His sacrifice/contribution to the success of the team/group. Hence why then [again], He says what He does in (v45). In contrast, then, the person whose identity is self-oriented determines their success [or approval of self] based on getting what they want irrespective of whether what they want benefits the team/group. This is the identity tied to our fallen feelings given at birth (and what therefore those who operate according to their feelings have as their identity – a self-oriented identity). This is also what Jesus is referring to when He speaks of dying to SELF as necessary to follow Him and get to heaven.

 

Why then community groups will help us get rid of this sinful self-orientation and make us care more about the success of the team = B/C their success/failure will be determined by its members (IOW: pastor will not be a part of them: they are YOUR MINISTRY. His part is merely to equip you to do it. And nothing gives you the team spirit like realizing its success is on your shoulders (e.g. Kids becoming parents. All of sudden they are no longer selfish – Why? b/c for the first time, they are responsible for the success [or survival] of someone other than themselves). The same thing once more with the community groups – daddy pastor is not going to be the one making sure it thrives or dies. That’s going to be on you.

 

5.4. Zeal: Given what we just discussed; community groups have the benefit of establishing/re-establishing zeal for our King. That is often the fruit associated with something becoming more than theoretical – we gain a passion or zeal for doing it. Rather than learning about ministry and watching me do it, you (now) wb in the driver’s seat. Analogy: watching athletes or soldiers competing/fighting or hearing their stories versus actually being the one out there catching the ball or firing the bullets. Passion or zeal is born through hands-on action. Getting to actually use what you have been learning to lead others to our King or grow them in their walk; realizing that what you do/ your participation actually determines the success of something changes you. All of sudden you also are “burdened” to see our King and His kingdom be successful (b/c you now play a real part in that). This is the reason for so many people becoming fired up for Jesus in college. Those kids are usually a part of some para-church ministry that relies on them to be successful and that burden – or that kind of “hands-on” involvement ignites passion and zeal. This BTW is what community groups are: they are essentially para-church ministries (“along-side” the church ministries), but the kind Jesus approves of.

 

5.5. Priorities: Community groups will likewise help you get your priorities are in the right place. They will require you to carve out time to be a part of them which means that time is no longer filled with things that were potentially doing nothing for the kingdom. This is something that Jesus warns us will happen if we are not careful (Luk 21:34; Rev 2:1-7 “first love/love you had at first” = Loyalty to Jesus and His agenda – the advancement of His kingdom. Though the Ephesians did have some things that were praiseworthy, their priorities had ultimately gotten screwed up. Easy to do in a world always vying for the extra time and energy we possess. Many a person who started out with the right priorities will end up going to hell simply b/c they progressively let more and more of their time be filled with things that do nothing for the King or His Kingdom [the meaning of dissipation]). Community groups therefore can help in that department. The excuse, “I’m too busy training at the gym to be a ninja” or whatever other stupid stuff people preoccupy themselves with (that obviously possess no value to the kingdom) will no longer fly in light of this more worthy and more eternally important commitment.

 

5.6. Hospitality: The “breaking of bread” mentioned as a part of community groups means that this important practice is something we will also learn since groups will be responsible for seeing that they are “stocked” with good and enjoyable food. More to come in the near future on that. For now however, understand that God cares (and uses this aspect of ministry) to reach others according to Luk 16:9 and the examples of Jesus feeding those who listened to His teaching. We need to be seen as hospitable and that (biblically defined) does not look like a bowl of whatever is left over in the pantry or I can scrounge together. Community groups are not to feel like a hobo’s convention.

Destroying The Death Star – Part 1

Evangelicals believe their Faith-Alone Gospel (FAG) to be ironclad. However, like the Death Star, this formidable foe hides several fatal flaws. Those possessing the plans to the Death Star are able to expose such flaws and not only destroy it, but the evil Evangelical empire that has used the FAG to destroy countless lives.

The plans to the Death Star = The FAG message:

Salvation is earned through perfect obedience to God’s Law. Since however this is humanly impossible, salvation requires that we put faith (alone) in the God-man Jesus Christ, who not only died to pay for our sins, but lived to fulfill our obligation of obedience. God therefore imputes to those who put faith in Christ, both His propitiatory death, and the merit of His perfect life. As a result, the Christian is afforded a justification that requires no duty to the Law. Christians obey only as a consequence of their regeneration and the indwelling Spirit.

The 3 fatal flaws revealed in the Death Star’s plans (i.e., FAG):

1. The Merit of Perfection

“Salvation is earned through perfect obedience to God’s Law. Since however this is humanly impossible, salvation requires that we put faith (alone) in the God-man Jesus Christ Who not only died to pay for our sins, but lived to fulfill our obligation of obedience. God therefore imputes to those who put faith in Christ, both His propitiatory death, and the merit of His perfect life.”

1.1. Everything the Evangelical believes about salvation hinges on the above assumption, that God saves based on merit. In this case, the merit of Christ’s perfect obedience that has been imputed (or reckoned) to us.

1.2. Where does this assumption come from?

The Evangelical’s merit-based system (of salvation) has three primary influences:

1.2.1. Roman Catholicism

Though Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers rejected Rome’s belief that human beings could eventually get to heaven by their merit, they assumed the merit-based system of salvation to still be valid (i.e., the soteriology taught in the Bible). The only merit however acceptable to God was the merit of perfection, and only Christ possessed it.

1.2.2. Luther’s Law-Gospel Dichotomy and Approach to Scripture Luther saw the Bible divided into two categories: Law and Gospel. The Law designates what God requires. It demands the merit of perfection: a standard we cannot meet. Gospel on the other hand, designates what God provides (in Christ) and promises us grace and forgiveness. The Law kills us by showing how miserably we fail to perfectly keep it. This is its purpose and how it should be used so that the gospel – or good news that Jesus has paid and perfectly obeyed, can grant us life through the salvation it graciously gives us by faith.

“The entire Scripture of God is divided into two parts: commands [Law] and promises [Gospel]1…The Law is the Word in which God teaches and tells us what we are to do and not to do…but after…the Law has done this work and distressful misery and poverty have been produced in the heart [because we cannot do it perfectly], God comes and offers his lovely, living Word, and promises, pledges, and obligates himself to give grace and help, that we may get out of this misery… This divine promise of his grace and…forgiveness [salvation]…is properly called Gospel.” – Martin Luther (Freedom of the Christian and Sermons)

1.2.3. The Protestant doctrine known as the Covenant of Works

According to Reformed theologian, Louis Berkhof, the Covenant of Works doctrine did not exist until the second generation of Protestant reformers (e.g., 16th -17th century theologians: Olevianus, Cloppenburg, Coccejus, Witsius), and became prominent only after its mention in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646-1648). Prior to this, such teaching was unknown either in the Early Church or the Scholastic period that followed (9th-15th century). In mentioning this doctrine, the WCF also provides a succinct and clear understanding of what it teaches, which is a system of salvation predicated on the merit of perfection.

“The first covenant created with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity [all human beings after him], upon condition of perfect and personal obedience” (VII.2)

1.3. That modern Evangelicals or proponents of the faith-alone gospel do indeed think of salvation in terms of merit – or earning one’s way to heaven is attested to in their writing:

1.3.1. R.C. Sproul (Reformed theologian and scholar, founder of Ligonier ministries)

“In the final analysis we see that we are saved by works. You say, ‘Wait a minute. I thought we taught justification by faith alone?’ Yes, but justification by faith alone means justification by putting our faith in Christ alone because Christ alone has fulfilled the covenant of works. We are still saved by works, but we are saved not by our works, but by the works of Christ.” – R.C. Sproul (Sermon: Saved by the Works of Christ)

1.3.2. Jon Bloom (staff writer for desiringgod.org)

“Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, made this statement (‘Be Perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’, Matthew 5:48) as the impossible culmination of the (fallen) humanly impossible standards of what it means to not sin in anger, lust, divorce, swearing oaths, and retaliation, as well as what it means to love our enemies. But just before he launches into this ‘perfection’ section of his sermon, Jesus gives us a clue to what he means: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’ (Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to perfectly fulfill on our behalf God’s demand on us for perfection.”

1.3.3. Lee Ann Trees (former Dean of Women at Westminster Seminary, CA)

“We must keep God’s laws perfectly because his nature requires it, but none of us is able to do it. Without God’s intervention, we are all under condemnation. Yet, this is not the end of the story! Because we are no longer deserving of heaven, due to our own tainted nature and works, God in his love and mercy sent his Son from heaven to us…He lived the perfect life we should have lived (but failed to), and he redeemed us (something we couldn’t do for ourselves) by offering himself up as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. It is by God’s grace alone—through faith in Christ alone—that we have peace with God and enter into his presence. If Jesus, the Son of God, humbled himself to serve us, why should we think our pride-filled works could ever grant us access to God?”

1.4. Salvation as merit-based is also at the core of Evangelical evangelism and preaching:

1.4.1. Evangelism (example): Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s “Way of the Master” Evangelism. Evangelism begins by asking a person if they believe they are a good person. If they say “yes”, then that person is queried with regard to their obedience to the 10 commandments (e.g., have they ever lied?). The person is then told God’s standard for getting to heaven is perfection. Since they have failed to perfectly keep the ten commandments, they have only earned hell. Jesus is introduced as the perfect Law-Keeper and the One they must therefore put faith in if they want to get to heaven.

1.4.2. Preaching (example): the “Redemptive-Historical” (or “Christ-Centered”, “Gospel-Centered”) preaching of Ephesians 6:1-3.

God calls children to perfectly obey their parents. The bad news is however, because they are sinners, they miserably fail their parents and fall under God’s condemnation. What are they to do? Remember the good news of Jesus, Who like them was once a child and on their behalf perfectly obeyed His parents. By having faith in Him, every child can have the comfort of knowing that God views them as fulfilling His righteous commands -including the command to obey their parents.

1.5. What makes believing that God’s system of salvation is merit-based a fatal flaw?

1.5.1. The Bible nowhere teaches salvation as meritorious.

No biblical support exists for the Covenant of Works2 or that God ever saw salvation as something that must be earned through perfect obedience to His commands. In addition, it must also be considered that if such a system did exist, then the Bible’s storyline before the time of Christ, paints a picture of God that is worse than Hitler. The establishment of the Law meant God was setting His beloved people up for failure (Lev 18:5, Deu 30:16; Eze 20:11; Luk 10:28 -“Do this and you will live” = Be sinlessly perfect in your obedience and you will possess eternal life). The history of the Jew’s brutal punishments and exile must now be read as the example of what happens when people fail to keep God’s impossible standard. It becomes the story of God the monster, who through the overt oppression of His unreasonable demands makes His people the victims of His hideous atrocities.

1.5.2. The Bible nowhere teaches that we mut possess sinless perfection or perfectly obey God to get to heaven.

When the Bible uses the word “perfect” to refer to sinful humans, it never carries the idea of sinless perfection. Instead it communicates faithfulness to all of God’s (known) commands. In this respect, the Bible identifies plenty of people as “perfect” [ תָּ מִ֥ים ] who are at the same time, sinners (See KJV: Noah – Gen 6:9; Job – Job 1:1, 8, 2:3; Asa – 1Ki 15:14; the men of Israel making David king – 1Ch 12:38; all those faithfully devoted to Israel – Psa 64:4; Pro 2:21; In this sense consider also Mat 5:48 “perfect” – same word [τέλειος] found in 1Co 2:6; Col 1:28; Jam 1:4 texts which teach this character trait can be achieved by believers. Again, it refers to faithfulness in all areas or completeness as in spiritual maturity).3

1.6. What (then) does the Bible teach as God’s system of salvation?

The Bible teaches marriage as God’s system of salvation. Like marriage 1) we (as the bride) gain a saving relationship w/Jesus (as the bridegroom) by grace through faith -or a vow of fidelity/allegiance/loyalty (expressed in a covenant sign – e.g., circumcision, sacrifice, baptism – 1Pe 3:21), 2) we maintain that vow through faithful obedience to God’s commands (i.e., like a faithful wife, we submit to our husband in everything) (Mat 28:18-20).

1.7. How do we use the merit of perfection to expose and destroy the Death Star (FAG) and the evil Evangelical empire?

By asking Evangelicals the following 4 questions:

1.7.1. Did you know that the foundation of the FAG is merit-based?

1.7.2. Can you show me in the Bible where God teaches that salvation is merit-based or requires the merit of perfection?

1.7.3. If by “perfect” the Bible means perfect obedience, then why are certain people in the Bible referred to as “perfect” though they were clearly sinners and demonstrated only faithful obedience to God’s commands? IOW: Is it possible that what this word means and what God actually requires (w/respect to obedience) is something other than perfection?

1.7.4. If you believe salvation is merit-based (salvation requires perfect law-keeping), then doesn’t that make your God worse than Hitler since those Jews who were mercilessly killed by God under the Old Covenant for not keeping the Law were – like those killed by Hitler, helpless victims since it is impossible to be perfect?

1 Luther’s close associate Philip Melanchthon is more explicit, “All of Scripture is either Law or Gospel.” (Commonplaces)

2 It is important to point out that Hosea 6:7 makes clear that God did establish a covenant with Adam. However never are we told that this covenant was merit-based – or as the Covenant of Works doctrine teaches, that the perfection they were supposed to demonstrate while under this covenant would eventually culminate in God’s offer of eternal life. This kind of fiction functions much in the same way as that used by con artists. It is always the foundational or initial assumption that proves to be most critical and most false. Once however accepted as true, the job of the con artist becomes easy, just stay consistent with the accepted assumption and not only will it become more believable but there is also little chance of it being discovered.

3 For further study see God and Human Wholeness: Perfection in Biblical and Theological Tradition by Kent Yinger

Preaching Out of Season – Part 4

(2Ti 4:2; 1Ti 4:7) = Controversial topics must be addressed and their silly myths put to rest.

 

Truth: a reminder (Joh 18:38 “What is truth?”):

1) truth is not determined by personal or public tolerance (Joh 6:51-60; Eph 1:10; Hence Rom 12:1-2), 2) truth is not determined by appearances or emotions (Joh 7:24; Jer 17:9), 3) truth is determined by a proposition’s agreement with God’s Spirit (i.e., the Word of God) not the spirit of the world (Mat 4:4; Joh 6:61-63, 17:17; Act 17:10-12; Eph 6:17; Eph 2:1-2; Col 2:8 w/20; Hence 1Jo 4:1), 4) you cannot be Jesus’ disciple (i.e., a saved person) yet rejecting truth or listening to the error of this world -i.e., no sacred cows allowed (Joh 6:66, 18:37; 1Jo 4:4-6), 5) often what we think is truth is instead the spirit and error of the world (Hence 12:1-2).

 

6. Same Sex Rebellion

6.1. In 1970, 70% of Americans believed homosexuality to be wrong. Today, 71% of Americans believe it to be morally acceptable (a 100% change in 50 years).

 

6.2. Homosexual relationships are now viewed as not only a respectable alternative to their heterosexual counterpart, but a lifestyle that should be explored by all people. Exploring one’s sexual orientation is encouraged as healthy.[1]

 

6.3. In our current economic climate, it also pays to be homosexual or part of a same-sex relationship. According to the 2019 Census Bureau report, “same-sex married couples have a higher median household income than opposite-sex married couples.”[2]

 

6.4. Due to homosexuality’s large acceptance in the West, several “Christian” denominations have also welcomed those practicing homosexuality into the fold (e.g., the Anglican Church of South Africa, Evangelical Anglican Church in America, Metropolitan Community Churches, some United Methodists, the United Churches of Christ, Presbyterian Churches in America, the Episcopal Church, Disciples of Christ, the Reformed Church in America, the Society of Friends [Quaker], the Friends General Conference [Quaker], the Mennonite Church USA, the American National Catholic Church, the Evangelical Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Church).

 

6.5. As of 2015, 62/63% of mainline Protestants now favor same-sex marriages and see no conflict between Christianity and homosexuality.

 

6.6. Things however were not always this way. Until the late 20th century (1970s), homosexuality was:

 

6.6.1. considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.

 

“homosexuality [is a] sociopathic personality disorder…[a] sexual deviation.” (DSM I and II)

 

6.6.2. condemned as sinful and considered illegal (its solicitation or expression) in many American states.

 

6.7. So what changed? Not God, but the world and those churches who chose to follow the world. God’s view of homosexuality today (under the New Covenant) is no different than it was under previous covenants. Throughout redemptive history, the practice of homosexuality has always constituted same sex rebellion.

 

6.8. Given God’s attitude toward homosexuality and its attending consequences, we can conclude that the sin of homosexuality (i.e., homosexual behavior) is more serious than most other sins:

 

6.8.1. God so hates homosexuality that He purposely designed His laws, doctrine and gospel to keep those practicing homosexuality (among other serious sins) from ever becoming a part of His salvific plan or covenant people (1Ti 9-11 “laid down” = Established as a barrier).

 

6.8.2. So disgusting is homosexuality to God, that He promises to damn not only those practicing it, but also those (men) guilty of acting effeminately (1Co 6:9-10 [NAS], those who practice homosexuality and the effeminate” – See also ESV Fn 3 [“two Greek words”] [οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται = “Neither the soft in behavior or man-f*%#ers”]; Hence 1Co 16:13; e.g., Those who are effeminate = Transgender males)

 

6.8.3. It is for these reasons that homosexuality is called an abomination (a thing causing disgust and hatred) and classified as a capital crime (Lev 20:13).

 

6.8.4. It is also for these reasons that God completely destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their inhabitants (Gen 19:1-25; v5 “Bring them out [the angels] that we might know them” = Have sexual relations w/them – See Gen 4:1).

 

6.9. Because they share the same unique signature of divine destruction (entire human populations destroyed by supernatural means), some have become convinced that like Sodom, Noah’s Flood was also the result of widespread acceptance or practice of homosexuality (In re: to Sodom: Gen 19:1-5 “all the people to the last man surrounded the house…‘Bring them out to us that we may know them’” = Every single male in the city of Sodom was seeking to perform homosexual acts on the angels – or more specifically, Jesus and the HS – Gen 18:1-2; As it re: to both cities, consider Abraham’s plea in Gen 18:20-33. Neither city possessed as little as 10 men innocent of homosexual behavior since if that had been the case, God would have spared that city).

 

6.10. If the above is true, then not only is the gay movement’s choice of the rainbow for their flag highly ironic, but widespread acceptance or practice of homosexuality also serves as another clear sign of Christ’s imminent return/this world’s final fiery destruction (As of 2022, 19 million Americans [eight times as many people as it was just 50 years ago] are practicing/have practiced some form of homosexual behavior). In this light consider (Mat 24:36-51 = Discerning the signs of wickedness that characterized the time of Noah is key to discerning Christ’s return and our subsequent readiness).

 

6.11. Equally illuminating and important to our discernment w/respect to this perversion, is what causes it to become prevalent: a rise in atheistic thinking. Is this not what also characterizes our modern times? (Rom 1:25-27).

 

6.12. That being said, because human beings are conceived in sin, people can also be born with same-sex attraction or temptations. If however those individuals resist those temptations, they are not guilty of nor identified by homosexuality. IOW: we are not defined by what we feel, but what we practice (1Jo 3:7-10). In addition, those who come to Christ find new power/ability to conquer this temptation and sin (1Co 6:11 “such were some of you”).

 

6.13. Strong reasoning skills and knowledge of the pertinent biblical texts is more than enough to soundly refute the objections made by those wicked churches/people who attempt to show compatibility between homosexuality and Christianity: 1) S&G was not destroyed because of homosexuality but attempted “rape humiliation”, rape used to humiliate foreigners believed to be spies (Jud 1:7 = God’s destroyed the cities b/c the men “pursued unnatural desire” –Literally, [NAS] “were going after strange flesh”– i.e., homosexual behavior, not rape; See also 2Pe 2:7-8 = Lot witnessed immoral sexual behavior among the people “day after day” – not simply at the time of the angel encounter), 2) S&G was not guilty of homosexuality but pride and lack of hospitality (Exe 16:49 = Sodom and Gomorrah are being used figuratively for Judah and Israel to emphasize how strongly God is opposed to them and their sin. The sins therefore mentioned are in relation to Judah and Israel not Sodom and Gomorrah), 2) Gen 19, 1Co 6, Lev 20, and Rom 1 are all in reference to those who are not born homosexual or operating outside “holy homo relationships” (1] attraction does not approve action [“I was born this was so it is okay”], 2] being born in sin is why we need to be “born again”, 3] In the Bible, all homosexual practice is communicated in terms of perversion, never is it ever communicated as holy or able to operate in that capacity), 3) God is a God of love which means He would never condemn someone for who they choose to love (See 1Ti 1:5- the goal of our instruction [w/God’s law, doctrine and gospel] is love”).

 

6.14. The acronym “FAG” as a designation for the Faith Alone gospel is truly fitting, since it makes it possible for practicing homosexuals to be saved w/o repenting of their homosexuality (FAG = Only faith is needed to be saved, obedience/repentance is nice but not necessary; e.g., Free Grace Movement/Bob Wilkins: They won’t inherit “the kingdom of God” [1 Co 6:9-10] on earth but they will still be saved and go to heaven; e.g., Charles Stanley: even those Christians who later become atheists are still saved since our actions can never effect our standing/state with God).

[1]

https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/should-i-explore-my-sexuality/

[2] https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/09/same-sex-married-couples-have-higher-income-than-opposite-sex-married-couples.html

Preaching Out of Season – Part 3

(2Ti 4:2; 1Ti 4:7) = Controversial topics must be addressed and their silly myths put to rest.

 

Truth: a reminder (Joh 18:38 “What is truth?”):

1) truth is not determined by personal or public tolerance (Joh 6:51-60; Eph 1:10; Hence Rom 12:1-2), 2) truth is not determined by appearances or emotions (Joh 7:24; Jer 17:9), 3) truth is determined by a proposition’s agreement with God’s Spirit (i.e., the Word of God) not the spirit of the world (Mat 4:4; Joh 6:61-63, 17:17; Act 17:10-12; Eph 6:17; Eph 2:1-2; Col 2:8 w/20; Hence 1Jo 4:1 and Rom 12:1-2), 4) you cannot be Jesus’ disciple (i.e., a saved person) yet rejecting truth or listening to the error of this world -i.e., no sacred cows allowed (Joh 6:66, 18:37; 1Jo 4:4-6), 5) often what we think is truth is the spirit and error of the world (Hence 12:3).

 

4. Domestic Discipline

A husband has the right and responsibility to discipline his wife through discipling her in God’s Word (the more effective, New Covenant application, Eph 5:26 “love your wives…cleans[ing] her by the washing of water with the word”; Jer 31:33; Eze 36:27) and is prohibited from using physical force (the Old Covenant application, Col 3:19 “love your wives, do not be hostile with them”). The New Covenant application also applies to the discipline of Christian children (old enough to understand) (Eph 6:4 “discipline namely the instruction of the Lord”; e.g., Joh 1:16; As it re: to this being the prescribed practice w/respect to slaves in general see also Eph 6:9 “stop your threatening” = Physical threat/harm – e.g., Act 9:1).

 

5. Critical Race Truth

5.1. Though all human beings are made in the image of God and share the same creational parents (Adam and Eve), there exists different races of people.

Since the time of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), there exists two major divisions: Jew and Gentile. Those who are the direct (or biological) descendants of the Patriarchs are Jews (or Hebrews), and those who are not, are Gentiles (Hb. “ha-goyim” = the nations [non-jewish]) (Gen 14:13 “Abram the Hebrew”).

 

5.2. God recognizes the diversity of people-groups that exist within the race of Gentile based on their patriarchal ancestor or ancient country of origin.

(e.g., Amalekites [Num 13:29], Amorites [Num 13:29], Ammonites [Gen 19:38], Arabians [2Ch 21:16], Assyrians [2Ki 19:35], Babylonians [Ezr 4:9], Canaanites [Num 13:29], Cushites [Dan 11:43], Edomites [Gen 36:9], Egyptians [Gen 10:6], Elamites [Ezr 4:9], Ethiopians [2Ch 12:3], Hittites [Num 13:29], Jebusites [Num 13:29], Libyans [Dan 11:43], Moabites [Gen 19:37], Nephilim [Num 13:33], Persians [Ezr 4:9], Philistines [Gen 10:14], Syrians [2Sa 8:5], etc.).

 

5.3. God also recognizes the physiological, behavioral and cultural distinctions that exist within the various people-groups that make up the Gentile race.

(e.g., Num 13:32-33; Isa 18:1-2; Jer 5:15-16; Act 17:21; Tit 1:12)

 

5.4. Because of the Patriarchs, God has exalted the Jews above all other races and promised that eventually every Gentile race would be subjugated by the Jews.

God is not partial, but He does discriminate. He has chosen to show favor to the Jewish people before any other. And that for all of human history (Deu 7:6-14; Psa 110:1-7 [Act 2:34-36] w/Isa 2:1-5 w/18:7 w/42:1-5 w/66:18-21 [Mat 28:18-20 and Rev 19:11-16 “rod of iron” = Subjugation and enslavement]; Seee also Isa 14:2, 60:10-12; and Exo 4:22; Hence Rom 2:10 – “glory and honor and peace…for the Jew first” w/v11).

 

5.5. Throughout history God has helped those races and nations less wicked, to subjugate and enslave those more wicked.

The world’s view is the polar opposite: those who subjugate and enslave are the more wicked. This principle applied also to the OC Jews (Lev 18:24-28; Eze 5:5-17 w/6:8-10).

 

5.6. God only views such subjugation and slavery as sinful/evil when the people in those situations are treated unjustly.

The first and most notorious example many Americans think of when considering the issue of racism is the slavery once practiced in this country. The American slave trade is viewed as one of the low points in our country’s history, the high point being when it was abolished. What however people fail to realize is that the fight to end slavery actually fueled the fires of racism rather than remove it. Why? Because the real problem was not being addressed. Slavery is not racism. Owning slaves or viewing people as property is not wrong when conducted according to God’s laws (Gen 17:10-13, 20:17; Exo 21:7-11, 20, 26; Lev 25:6, 44-48; Ecc 2:7; 1Co 7:21; Eph 6:5-9; All of God’s people exist as His slaves – Lev 25:38-42; Mat 10:24-25; 1Pe 2:16; 1Co 6:20).

 

 

 

 

 

5.7. From the perspective of God (and therefore also the Christian), racism – or sins related to one’s race, comprise a much smaller category than those identified by the world.

What God (and the Christian must) identify as racist is limited to the following:

 

5.7.1. believing that a particular race is less human

This is the wonderful product of Darwinian evolution. In his book, “The Descent of Man” Darwin states that some races are genetically superior and “more human” than others whereas others are “less human” and “more ape” than others. This was also a part of Hitler’s thinking and Nazi propaganda with respect to the Jews. German schools taught that the Jews were subhuman, implying their connection to rats. The Bible and science however reveal that all races come from the same original parents (Adam and Eve). As such all peoples, no matter their race, color or other distinctive features, have been created as image-bearers of God (Gen 1:26-28 w/Act 17:26).

 

5.7.2. being against inter-racial relationships/dating/marriage

The only form of “inter-racial” marriage prohibited in the Bible is Christians marrying non-Christians (2Co 6:14-18).

 

5.7.3. treating someone unjustly because of their physical/biological race (Lev 19:15-18; Mat 22:39)

Here (then) is where precision is crucial to understanding issues related to race or racial treatment. Saying that it is sin (racism) to treat someone unjustly because of their race is not the same (nor sin) as saying people can (and at times should) be treated differently because of their culture – including the culture that may be associated with their race (Tit 1:12 w/13-16, 3:1, 8-10, 14).

 

5.8. The satanic philosophies of humanism and individualism have done more to confuse the issue of racism than anything else. Humanism = human freedom is the highest and greatest good.

Individualism = every person is a sovereign citizen free from the control or ownership of others.

Both of these philosophies can be summed up in what Jesus identifies as “self”, that which must be jettisoned if we as humans are to possess real and lasting abundant life (Mat 16:24-25).

 

5.9. Because Satan runs this world, the sins of racism will always exist since it proves an effective tool for dividing and destroying humanity.

Many of the organizations and ideas purported to be against racism have historically been those most guilty of not only perverting its definition, but also promoting it for their own personal gain.

 

“There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” – Booker T. Washington

 

5.10. By becoming a Christian and a part of Christ’s nation and culture (the church), Gentiles can now receive the favored treatment of the Jews, since through Christ we are adopted into the line of the Patriarchs (Abraham).

When a person (Jew or Gentile) becomes a Christian, they leave their former race, nation and culture behind and become a part of God’s (new) chosen (and favored) race, nation and culture (1Pe 2:9; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:11-19a [race], 19b-22 [culture= church]; Also in re: to culture see Eph 3:6 and Col 2:6-8). The only way (then) to leave the sinful racism of this world behind is to leave this world and become a part of Christ’s new world/nation/culture and people.

 

5.11. As Christians, we are to favor our new race (Christians), nation and culture above our former race, biological family, nation and cultures.

(Mat 12:46-50; Gal 6:10)

Preaching Out of Season – Part 2

(2Ti 4:2; 1Ti 4:7) = Controversial topics must be addressed and their silly myths put to rest.

 

Truth: a reminder (Joh 18:38 “What is truth?”):

1) truth is not determined by personal or public tolerance (Joh 6:51-60; Eph 1:10; Hence Rom 12:1-2), 2) truth is determined by a proposition’s agreement with God’s Spirit (i.e., the Word of God) not the spirit of the world (Mat 4:4; Joh 6:61-63, 17:17; Act 17:10-12; Eph 6:17; Eph 2:1-2; Col 2:8 w/20; Hence 1Jo 4:1 and Rom 12:1-2), 3) you cannot be Jesus’ disciple (i.e., a saved person) yet rejecting truth or listening to the error of this world -i.e., no sacred cows allowed (Joh 6:66, 18:37; 1Jo 4:4-6), 4) often what we think is truth is the spirit and error of the world (Hence Rom 12:1-2).

 

4. Domestic Discipline (the right and responsibility of a husband to discipline his wife)

4.1. Like the children, the wife is the human property (slave) of her husband:

4.1.1. The Hebrew term for husband (בַּ֫עַל; ba’al) and it’s Greek equivalent (κύριος; kurios) can also be translated as “owner” or “lord/master”, referring to persons whose authority is due to ownership (e.g., [בַּ֫עַל]: Gen 20:3 “man’s wife” = Literally, “she is owned by an owner [ba’al]; Exo 21:22 [same word as v28]; Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14, 31:32; Joe 1:8; Pro 12:4, 30:23, 31:10-12, 23; [κύριος]: 1Pe 3:1 w/6).

 

“[In Israel, women] had no legal status, being the personal property first of their fathers, and then of their husbands.” – Anthony Phillips (Ancient Israel’s Criminal Law: A New Approach to the Decalogue)

 

4.1.2. In verbal form, the term (בַּ֫עַל; ba’al) refers to marriage, strengthening the connection between marriage and ownership (e.g., Deu 24:1).

 

4.1.3. Etymological studies reveal the term (“husband”) to be a derivation of the ancient term, “householder”, meaning owner of the household.

 

4.2. Wives as the property (or slaves) of their husband was the consensus position in all ancient societies.

 

“The essence of the woman’s position in Roman law was that she could never technically become a free agent [no longer be a slave]…If a woman underwent marriage she passed into the manus [property ownership and control] of her husband…This placed her legally on the same footing as her daughter.” – Suzzane Dixon (“Polybius on Roman Women and Property”; JSTOR)

 

4.3. Though modern society no longer recognizes wives as their husband’s property (women as chattel), vestiges of this biblical truth remain. For example, most women still assume their husband’s last name. A sign of ownership is you carry that person’s name (e.g., Mat 28:19 w/1Co 6:20 w/Act 20:28 w/Eph 5:23).

 

4.4. Under the Old Covenant:

4.4.1. God commanded that all slaves (personal property) be treated righteously (e.g., Lev 25:6; Deu 5:15-16, 16:9-14). Never were they to be neglected or abused or exposed to harm. So favorable was the position of the slave under God’s Law that many desired it over emancipation (Deu 15:12-17). The master-slave relationship was to reflect the relationship of Master-slave that existed between God and His people (Israel) (Lev 25:42; Deu 6:20-25 = We obey God because He is a good Master Who redeemed us [bought us out of slavery] from an evil master so that we could become His slaves; One of the most prominent terms used to describe Christians in the NT is δοῦλος, literally, “slave” -e.g., Act 2:18, 4:29; Rom 1:1, 6:18 and 22 [verbal forms]; Phi 1:1; Tit 1:1; Jam 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Jud 1:1; Rev 1:1).

 

4.4.2. God condoned the use of physical force against a man’s slaves when it was: 1) for righteous reasons (to enforce the law/justice), 2) done in a righteous way (the punishment fit the crime and did not cause permanent harm). A husband therefore using righteous physical force against his wife (according to the aforementioned criteria) was never considered abusing her (what today is identified as “domestic violence”). In this respect, it was viewed as no different than a parent spanking their child (Exo 21:20-21 “rod”, 26-27; In re: to children: Pro 13:24, 23:13-14 “rod”). That God saw the use of physical force (e.g., hitting, spanking) as appropriate not only for children but also adults is made clear by (Deu 25:1-3). Consider also (Pro 19:29, 26:3 = The category of “fool” includes more than children). It is important to note that God uses physical force against His wife when she is disobedient (e.g., Ezekiel 23; Eze 23:25-27).

 

4.4.3. That being said, God never condones a slave (including wives and children) hitting their owner (husband or father). Outside of acting in defense, such actions are always an act of insubordination. In the case of children, striking either parent is considered a capital crime (Deu 21:15). Though no explicit punishment exists for wives’ guilty of the same crime, it remains serious. Given the comparison made between wives and the church in the New Testament, a wife striking her husband is like the church striking Christ.

 

4.5. Until the late 19th century, husbands disciplining their wives through the use of physical force was not only legal, but encouraged in the Western World (including the United Sates). The basis for such laws was the Bible:

 

“A Similar doctrine had been laid down by Dr. Marmaduke Coghill, judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland, who in a suit by a wife for divorce on the ground that her husband had given her a sound beating, delivered a well-considered opinion that, with such a switch as the one held in his hand, moderate chastisement was within the matrimonial privileges of the husband”. – London Quarterly Review of Legal cases Vol 136, (1874)

 

“By the ancient common law [the Bible], the husband possessed the power of chastising his Wife…let the husband be permitted to exercise the right of moderate chastisement” – Calvin Bradley v. State of Mississippi (1834)

 

“A husband cannot be convicted of a battery on his wife unless he inflicts a permanent injury or uses such excessive violence or cruelty as indicates malignity or vindictiveness…A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum or go behind the curtain.” – State of North Carolina v. Jesse Black (1864)

 

4.6. Though no longer legal, domestic discipline was still popular (even encouraged) in the 1950’s – including by America’s most liberal influences, Hollywood and Capitalism.

 

4.7. Evidence from the early church also demonstrates that they too believed husbands had the authority to enforce the law/justice through righteous physical force in relation to their wives.

 

“A man may chastise his wife and beat her for her correction; for she is of his household.”

– Friar Nicolas Byard (1140 A.D.)

 

4.8.

A crucial consideration to the validity of domestic discipline:

what gives a man the right to such discipline (the use of physical force) is the same principle that justifies a police officer’s use of force: they possess the authority to enforce the law (or justice). Why (then) is it okay for the police and not the husband whose authority over his wife is greater than that of a police officer (the husband’s authority originates and reflects that of Christ in relation to the church)?

 

4.9.

The origin of Domestic Violence (or the villainizing of Domestic Discipline): the feminist movement of 1848-1861. Though spoken in the context of condemnation, a sampling from one of their speeches offers additional support to domestic discipline’s prior acceptance and understood connection to the Bible,

 

“In those early days a husband’s supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper – as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner…The laws made it his privilege – and the Bible, as interpreted, made it is his duty…By the common law of England, the spirit of which has been but too faithfully incorporated into our statute law, a husband has a right to whip his wife with a rod not larger than his thumb, to shut her up in a room, and administer whatever moderate chastisement he may deem necessary to insure obedience to his wishes, and for her healthful moral development!”

 

4.10. It is the same sinful ideology of the feminist movement that is behind the current push for child emancipation. Soon all attempts by parents to guide the moral path of their children – and most especially when it involves the use of physical force, will not only be illegal, but viewed as the dangerous and damaging actions of abusive parents. The use of force by police officers will eventually follow suit since at the heart of this ideology, lies the belief that any physical force used against others is always and only evil.

 

4.11. What does God’s teaching on domestic discipline mean for Christians under the New Covenant?

4.11.1. From the perspective of justice: The use of physical force by a husband against his wife for righteous reasons and in a righteous way is never abusive (since what God condones as good can never become evil) (Isa 5:20). Such actions only qualify as abuse when they do not meet the biblical criteria.

 

4.11.2. From the perspective of application: According to Ephesians 5:25-33 the husband still maintains the right and responsibility of disciplining his wife. However, what that looks like (now) is not only different, but far more effective (Eph 5:26 “cleanse”) = Discipline through discipleship in God’s Word (similar to a pastor’s responsibility to the flock – 2Ti 4:2). Support: 1) the cleansing of v26 is in relation to the “word” not Christ’s blood (i.e., it is not referring to propitiation), 2) the cleansing is (instead) penal (Pro 20:30), 3) (v27 “spot or wrinkle…holy and without blemish”) = Practical holiness versus positional holiness (e.g., 2Pe 3:11-14), 4) (Eph 6:17; Col 3:19), 5) why discipline through discipleship in God’s Word is (now) more effective (Jer 31:33; Eze 36:27; Hence 1Ti 4:8).

 

CLOSING CHALLENGE: husbands to pray the Lord’s Prayer and read the Bible with their wives (round-robin style) M-F for the next four weeks. Week: 1) Philippians, 2) Colossians, 3) Ephesians, 4) James

Tying Up Loose Ends: “Final” Musings on Faithful Obedience

1. The gospel according to Jesus requires faithful obedience to get eternal life. (Joh 8:51 “keeps” = is faithful)

 

2. James got his gospel from his brother (Jesus) and Jesus got his gospel from the OT which means God’s salvation has not changed (IOW: it has always required faithful obedience). (Deu 28:1-2 w/Jam 2:24)

 

3. If as the Evangelicals say, the OT saints were also saved by faith alone (and not their obedience)[1], then God is no better than Hitler since most of Jews either didn’t get the memo and were ruthlessly killed by Him or tried the faith alone route and were still ruthlessly killed by Him. (Jer 7:1-16, 11:1-11, 13:12-14, 14:11-12, 13-14 “assured peace” [the message: have faith and you wb delivered], 15:1, 16:1-5 w/10-11, 19:9, 23:14-17, 21-22 [Eze 13:22], 25:4-11, 44:27)

 

4. Spotting false prophets, teachers and Christians has always been easy: they are those who leave the condition of faithful obedience out of their gospel and practice. (Deu 29:18-20; Mat 7:15-20 w/21-23; 2Pe 2:1; Jud 1:3-4; Eph 5:5-10; 1Jo 3:7-10)

 

5. The fact that we must repent and will be judged according to our works makes no sense unless faithful obedience is a condition of our salvation. (Mar 1:15; Luk 3:8-14; 2Co 7:10a; Rev 20:11-15; 2Co 5:9-10; Rom 2:6-11)

 

6. Jesus was sinfully cruel to someone He loved if salvation does not require faithful obedience. (Mat 19:16-22 “keep” = Be faithful to; Mar 10:21)

 

7. People don’t need to become Christians (receive propitiation) or possess the Holy Spirit (regeneration/new birth) to produce faithful obedience since God says we can do it without such help from above. (Deu 30:11-14 “who will ascend to heaven…[or] will go over the sea…for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it” = We do not need Spiritual help or deliverance to do it; propitiation necessary to be saved but not to faithfully obey God; See also Ecc 7:29 “upright” = Morally capable; e.g., 2Ki 10:3 “fittest” [same word as Ecc 7:29 translated “upright”)

 

8. If regeneration were necessary to faithful obedience then God would be unjust in His condemnation of the wicked (i.e., obligation requires ability). (Eze 18:1-9 “the fathers have eaten sour grapes and children’s teeth are set on edge” = We have no control over/cannot change our destiny – or stop the behavior that leads to our damnation)

 

9. God would also be unjust if faithful obedience were not quantifiable or knowable. (Again Deu 30:11-14 = We do not need Spiritual help or deliverance to “hear it” – i.e. to know it or know that you are doing it; 2Ti 4:7-8; Phi 3:6)

 

10. Evidence of conviction (or grief) over sin does not confirm that you possess faithful obedience. (Joh 16:8; 2Co 7:10b; e.g., Judas – Mat 27:1-5)

 

11. Evidence of affection, approval, or believe in Jesus does not confirm that you possess faithful obedience. (Joh 2:23-25, 6:60 w/66; Luk 14:25-35; Mat 13:20-22)

 

12. Your desire to be faithful, your membership in a biblical church or the fact that you have examples of obedience or serving Christ in your life also does not confirm that you possess faithful obedience. (Luk 12:34; Mat 7:21-23; Eze 18:26; Jer 7:1-15)

 

13. Committing a capital crime does not mean you will never be considered faithfully obedient by God. (e.g., 1Ki 14:8; 1Ti 1:12-13)

 

14. For the Christian to possess faithful obedience (and receive final salvation/get to heaven – Rom 13:11; 1Pe 1:3-5), they must (after initial salvation/baptism) remain obedient to everything they know God expects from them – especially during testing/trials, never knowingly continuing in any sin (or being unrepentant) to the point of losing their possibility of forgiveness. (Heb 10:26 “receiving the knowledge of the truth” = The truth established by God’s Word that we commit to trust and follow the moment we receive Christ/get baptized; Luk 9:62; 1Jo 1:9, 3:7-10; Eze 18:24 = The majority view [“you were obedient the majority of your Christian life”] is not accurate; Deu 8:1-2 and 1Pe 1:6 = Obedience during trials/testing is especially important; In this respect consider also Mat 18:7-9)

[1] “God has always required that his people exercise faith, even when that faith lacked the clear connections to Jesus that we can see today.

Old Testament believers were saved by grace through faith, by the grace of God whom they trusted according to His own promises. In that broad sense, there really is no difference between the way the Old Testament saints were saved and the way New Testament saints are saved.” – D.A. Carson (Gospel Coalition)

“Since Adam rebelled at the beginning, the Creator instituted only one way for a person to be declared righteous and that is through repentant trust in the coming Victor… Anyone, who trusted in the promise of the coming Son, now “born of a woman, born under law,” was justified, delivered from both the curse and obligation of the broken divine law… Overall, the only way anyone has been declared righteous from the Fall until the present is through trust in the substitutionary atonement of our Victor-King. In the past, people looked forward to him; now we look back to his finished work.” – Mark R. Kreitzer (Grand Canyon University)

The Gospel of the New Protestant – Part 2

The New Protestant believes that the gospel (or plan of salvation) presented throughout the pages of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation) to be the same in its basic framework. That gospel may be referred to as the Marriage Covenant Gospel (MCG) and can be summarized as follows:

God saves through establishing covenants between Himself and those He is saving.1 The saving covenants of the Bible are not meritorious but marital in nature (e.g., Jer 31:31-32)2. As such, they follow the principles of gain and maintain: 1) Under the New Covenant, we gain salvation or covenant relationship with God by grace (or His gracious choice) through faith in Jesus Christ (i.e., through placing our trust in Him as Savior and vowing our allegiance or loyalty to Him3 as our Divine King4) and 2) we maintain (not merit) that salvation (justification) and its promises (including the promise of eternity) through faithful obedience to Christ’s Law (1Co 9:21; Gal 6:2; e.g., Mat 28:18-205). Biblical salvation is therefore not by faith alone (the Protestant/Evangelical view or FAG6), but rather requires also the condition of faithful obedience7.

Determining which gospel is correct requires it possess consistency (or agreement) in the following 3 areas: 1) redemptive history, 2) the early church, 3) the relationship between faith and works. This study will show that the New Protestant MCG is the only soteriological framework demonstrating such consistency while at the same exposing the biblical and historical inconsistency produced by the Evangelical or (old) Protestant FAG.

Honey attracts bees, harsh words, God’s people

If this is Jesus’ church and we want to build His kingdom, then we need to stop having “itching ears”. To do that however requires adopting Jesus (and Paul’s) speech in relation to the wicked – most specifically, the false preachers and fake Christians of our day.

1. Jesus’ speech toward false preachers and fake Christians was constantly derogatory1, offensive and polarizing.

2. The apostle Paul’s speech toward false preachers and fake Christians was equally derogatory, offensive and polarizing.

3. Jesus and Paul were following the examples of God’s OT prophets.

4. NT pastors are divinely charged with the same mission (or speech) as the effective means to protecting the church from fake Christians, and attracting those truly welcome to God.

The Gospel of the New Protestant – Part 1

The New Protestant believes that the gospel (or plan of salvation) presented throughout the pages of Scripture (from Genesis to Revelation) to be the same in its basic framework. That gospel may be referred to as the Marriage Covenant Gospel (MCG) and can be summarized as follows:

God saves through establishing covenants between Himself and those He is saving.1 The saving covenants of the Bible are not meritorious but marital in nature (e.g., Jer 31:31-32)2. As such, they follow the principles of gain and maintain: 1) Under the New Covenant, we gain salvation or covenant relationship with God by grace (or His gracious choice) and faith in Jesus Christ (i.e., by placing our trust in Him as Savior and vowing our allegiance or loyalty to Him3 as our Divine King4) and 2) we maintain (not merit) that salvation (justification) and its promises (including the promise of eternity) through faithful obedience to Christ’s Law (1Co 9:21; Gal 6:2; e.g., Mat 28:18-205). Biblical salvation is therefore not by faith alone (the Protestant/Evangelical view or FAG6), but rather requires also the condition of faithful obedience7.

Determining which gospel is correct requires it possess consistency (or agreement) in the following 4 areas: 1) redemptive history, 2) the early church, 3) God’s moral character, 4) the relationship between faith and works. This study will show that the New Protestant MCG is the only soteriological framework demonstrating such consistency while at the same exposing the inconsistency, moral compromise and tension produced by the Evangelical or (old) Protestant FAG.