Have I feared the crowd or the contempt of the masses, so that I kept quiet and stayed indoors? (Job 31:34 NLT)

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Slanted Preaching: My Monitoring Normative Pauline Churches

I will study various churches to see what normative conservative evangelical Presbyterian or Evangelical churches preach today.  In doing so, I do not intend to embarass any pastor or church. Their messages are summarized below so I can record what is going on commonly in this nation. Even if Paulinism is not expressly stated, it is happening in the SLANT of the messages. 

1. Presbyterian Church

So under (1), I will summarized the messages of a Presbyterian church / pastor in a highly conservative and Jesus-loving church. Lovely people and a loveable pastor. So please do not misconstrue the point of this topic.

A. May 19, 2013. The message was focused 100% upon Paul's message to the Corinthians in Paul's second epistle to them. The pastor explains that Paul in Second Corinthians was answering evidently a charge that Paul was a liar, apparently about a promise to return to the Corinthians which had not happened. So Paul had to say he "lies not," and swear what he is saying is true, etc. Paul did not come supposedly because it was better for them he did not. Actually, the pastor never clearly explains what explanation Paul gave.

Regardless, the conclusion to the pastor's message's was that when we are misunderstood but we know we are following God in our genuine heart, then simply tell this fact plainly and honestly in simple words to those who think we are lying.  I kid you not. An entire hour to tell the audience that point.

But even so, did Jesus never say anything on how to respond to attacks when you are misunderstood? What was Jesus' example? Swearing "I lie not?" I don't think so. Jesus said to keep it truly simple -- let your answer be 'no' or 'yes,' but adding oaths to make another believe you is too much. If you are telling the truth, you should not need oaths outside of court. That is what Jesus truly taught.

Then in the pastor's prayer to God as the service concluded, the pastor thanked God for sending Paul and the other apostles as an example. I kid you not! Jesus was not mentioned! I guess talking about Jesus at Easter suffices for an entire year. For the rest of the year, it is often all about Paul.  He supposedly is our example! What about Jesus? Apparently not so much, so it seems at this church.

Interestingly, in this same message, the pastor noted that Second Peter says Paul says many things difficult to understand. The pastor commented that only the spiritually ignorant supposedly misunderstand Paul. The pastor implied that the Corinthians fit in that group. They apparently misconstrued Paul's promise to return as to require Paul to return even if Paul's spirit told Paul later not to do so. In fact, when the pastor tried to describe Paul's explanation, it appeared so double-minded and wishy-washy, it did not amount to anything much more than "I didn't feel it was best." I guess that is an honest explanation.

However, the true message should have been that Paul shouldn't have made a promise he did not believe was a commitment. Then the teaching would be we should not make promises you don't feel strongly you will keep it. Otherwise, people will justly think you are letting them down, and you won't have any good explanation for why you did not fulfill your promise if it is simply that you changed your mind. Then you will resort to pseudo-religious clap-trap to cover over the fact you are not a person of your word.

B. May 26, 2013. The message began well, saying this will be an exposition on the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. Then the pastor said this would be a message focused only upon one of the several prayers Jesus taught: "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The pastor identified that this on its face appears to go against the Reformed doctrine (based upon Paul) that God wills all things. If Jesus is read literally, then Jesus contradicts that doctrine, and teaches there are some things happening on earth outside the will of God.

Based upon Reformed doctrine (Paul's doctrine), the pastor spent most of the rest of the sermon preaching on God as willing all things, and then explaining away what Jesus said on the grounds that Jesus meant to pray that God's "revealed" will take place as God's will takes place in heaven, but that we should know that God's secret will is always taking place on earth. The pastor even said that God's will was behind the 2 planes that hit the World Trade Center in 2001, but that was God's secret will. (Hence, this preaches God willed the murder of several thousand people.).  

The scripture basis to reinterpret Jesus' words was a passage in Deuteronomy 29:29:

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

The preacher re-interpreted this to mean not "secret things," but "secret will." Thus, there are supposedly two types of wills. We then apply this distinction suposedly to Jesus' words about "thy will be done on earth as in heaven," and we re-write it to mean "thy revealed will be done on earth as your will is done in heaven." Thus, we simply pray for our / the world's obedience to the revealed will of God. But otherwise, all things are taking place according to the secret will of God.

Convincing? Hardly.

Hence, to this point, Jesus was quoted once, and was given emphasis for all of 5 minutes, and then was dismissed essentially by specious reasoning about a supposed 'secret' will versus a 'revealed will.' Paul triumphed. Jesus lost. As a matter of time, it was 35 minutes for Paul's issues versus 5 for Jesus's issues, and Jesus' true literal meaning was dismissed based upon the pressure to conform to Paul.

Then the pastor explained the gospel for 5 minutes. He said it is so much Christ that we need only the righteousness of Christ. We do not need any social gospel of helping the poor. That message leaves out the message about sin supposedly. If we preach conversion, this will lead to righteousness, and that is all the world needs. So doing good for the poor is, he taught, not on the agenda of Christianity -- only conversion to a belief that only Christ's righteousness is necessary.

I am incredulous sometimes on what good Christians can actually say at odds with Jesus...here the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.

See Matthew 25. 

C. Trinity Belief Is Supposedly Essential to Being a Christian

An elder then mentioned on May 26, 2013 in a membership message that the Westminster Confession teaches us that if we don't believe in the Trinity that we cannot be a Christian. It is immaterial that the word trinity nowhere appears in the Bible. The elder said this as something he was proud about. He claimed this proves the righteousness of having traditions that we treat as essential for the faith even though not expressly in the Bible.

But then that is elevating the authority of the Westminster Confession to the same level as the Bible to teach us doctrines nowhere expressly present in the Inspired Scripture. Jesus condemned such role of tradition.

However, the elder erred. The WCF does not say one is not a Christian if one does not believe in the trinity. Here is where one can read a PDF of the Westminster Confession: WCF.

Since it is rather short, I will include the entirety of Chapter Two from the WCF on the trinity:

PTER 2: GOD AND THE HOLY TRINITY
1. There is only one living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection. He is a most pure spirit, invisible, with neither body, parts, nor passive properties. He is unchangeable, boundless, eternal, and incomprehensible. He is almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, and most absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of his own unchangeable and most righteous will, for his own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him. He is also most just and terrifying in his judgments, hating all sin, and will by no means acquit the guilty. 

2. God has all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness in and of himself. He alone is all-sufficient, in and to himself, not standing in need of any creatures which he has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but rather manifesting his own glory in, by, to, and on them. He alone is the fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things. He has absolute sovereignty over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatever he pleases. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent of his creatures; so that nothing to him is contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatever worship, service, or obedience he is pleased to require of them.

3. In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.

There is nothing in this about that one must believe the trinity of three beings united in one Godhead to be a Christian.

Fyi: some reformed thinkers agree that the WCF represents the heresy of Modalism of a fourth entity - the Godhead - that exists apart from the three persons in whom they unite.

We are blessed there is no necessity of believing the WCF version of the Trinity. For how could one do so as it claims a self-contradiction in terms is truth: "the Son is eternally begotten...." By definition, something "begotten" did not exist at some earlier point in time, and thus cannot be eternal. Of course, one can irrationally affirm this based upon thinking God accepts a self-contradiction, but that itself is not consistent with a God who speaks truth without contradiction.


My Monitoring of An Evangelical Church

In this section, I will monitor a non-denominational evangelical church. This church is exceptional in the depth it goes to examine the Greek or Hebrew terms. It is truly geared to studying the word. However, as Paul is often at odds with other parts of the Bible, typically if a passage other than Paul is involved, the message spends most of the time trying to reconcile a passage that contradicts Paul to make it sound Pauline. The first sermon listed next is a perfect example.

A. Psalm 50: Pastor M's Message on 5/23/2015

The assistant pastor's sermon was an exposition on Psalm 50:7-15. In my opinion, this passage has a strong anti-Pauline message -- for it says Israel's sacrifices are not needed by God; what He wants is (1) thanksgiving; and (2) performance of their vows (which means their side of the covenant at Sinai), and then when they call on God in time of trouble, God promises to save them. It is a clear conditional salvation / deliverance message where obedience is vital. But the pastor will invert this, and make it sound Pauline, as I will explain later.

Here are the verses that were exposited upon taken from the ESV:

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak;
    O Israel, I will testify against you.
    I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
    your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house
    or goats from your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
    the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the hills,
    and all that moves in the field is mine.

12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
    for the world and its fullness are mine.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,[a]
    and perform your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

The first word "and" is not in verse 15. See Bible Hub Hebrew tab. Seven Bible versions correctly omit the first word as "and." When you remove "and," then verse 15 clearly implies conditionality,i.e., if you do "offer...thanksgiving" and "perform your vows," then what? "Then call upon me...and I will deliver you..." The Abegg Dead Sea Scrolls Bible based upon a pre-300 AD reading renders it with verse 14 as: "fulfill your vows to the Most High. Then call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will glorify me."

So there was a certain selectivity to the translation chosen. This was deliberate, as we shall see. 

The sermon clearly twisted Psalm 50 to fit faith alone salvation. How? First, by inverting the requirement of "perform your vow" to be restated as implying no duty at all. Rather, our obedience -- our vow -- supposedly is simply a privilege. The proof? The proof was Acts 17:24-25 which is Paul saying God supposedly does not need us to do anything. It reads:

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

This is false on both scores.

First, God did live at the Temple of Jerusalem when Paul spoke in 52 AD. Jesus said so too, referring to it as "My Father's House," and scourging traders who acted like God does not live there.

Second, God does need our service from our free-will -- as a condition for His righteous deliverance, as expressed in Psalm 50, and as Jesus says likewise in the Parable of the Sheep & The Goats. See Matt. 25:30-46. Jesus taught that as you provide water, food, clothes to the least of these, you do unto me. Those who fail to do so, Jesus says go to Gehenna where their worm dies not.

Paul's statements were thus utterly and completely false. Yet, Pastor M, having cited Paul as proof, now repetitiously handled the "perform the vow" verse by the reworded phrase of a "privilege" to perform a vow, do a ministry service, etc.

The final step in the pastor's Pauline spin was (in case one was not convinced) to read verse 15 without any conditionality. It was supposedly a simple call to believe. It is allegedly a promise without any condition. Thus, Pastor M. said you must believe God will deliver you in time of trouble, and He will do so. Your faith has to be strong in this supposedly unconditional promise.

Hence, the use of a version that adds "and" into verse 15, and thus obscures the conditionality in verse 15, was deliberate. Even with "and" wrongly inserted, you can still see the truth -- the thanksgiving and performance of vows leads to God's promise. It is not to those who have no thanksgiving and have no performance of vows. Yet, Pastor M. meant precisely that was the outcome. Using the "and" addition to verse 15 aided obscuring the meaning of verse 15 which truly was a promise based upon a condition -- what we read in verse 14. God never makes promises without conditions. That is the entire meaning of covenant, whether New or the original at Sinai.

So where was Jesus in the mix to help the pastor explain the passage? Nowhere.

Paul was quoted 5x, Jesus Zero times.

Paul was quoted in Colossians 3:16; Acts 17:24-25; Romans 12; Ephesians 5:20; and Ephesians 6:12. 

By contrast, Jesus has supposedly nada, zippo, zilch to speak to us about salvation.

So do you now see what happens when people stop listening to Christ? And they listen only to Paul? They distort even passages that contradict Paul so they come out with a Pauline meaning. They end up with Cheap Grace, as Bonhoeffer said. It is a Christianity without Christ.


B. July 26, 2015 Head Pastor's Message

Today was a great teaching from the pastor about the danger of the tongue. Oh! How we sin with the tongue. Then he quotes Paul in Ephesians 5 where Paul says that "everyone" who commits certain enumerated sins "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The pastor then spun this to be that we should not make light by crude joking of the sin that everyone else practices, and for which they will not inherit the kingdom. Thus, the pastor by-passed raising any concern that Paul's inheritance warning had any application to a true Christian believer. It was a subtle avoidance of the issue.

Despite this, the pastor always gives messages about stern repentance, cutting off 'body parts' to avoid sin, as Jesus taught, etc. Yet, there is no doubt where the pastor stands. Earlier in the same sermon, he quoted Paul from Ephesians 4 saying we are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit to our destiny in heaven, and thus we will go to heaven regardless of the sin we are dealing with. So the main pastor by-passed what "everyone" means in Ephesians 5. This allowed him to maintain the doctrine that sin and disobedience by a true Christian does not disqualify their salvation.

C. August 2, 2015, Assistant Pastor P in Main Sermon; Sunday School Lesson of Another Assistant Pastor

Saturday evening's message was on persecution of the church. In this 1 hour message, this is how many times Jesus, Paul and other passages were cited and quoted / paraphrased:

Jesus -- O, zero, nada, not once!

Paul -  9 times, yes nine times.

Proverbs & Psalms -- 3 times

1 Peter - 4 times

Acts, Judges, Proverbs and Psalms - 6 times combined

Then on Sunday morning, during an excellent study on Isaiah, you would think perhaps once Jesus would be quoted. But alas the same pattern as the night before. Here are the numbers:

Jesus - 0, zero, nada, not once!

Paul  - 9 times -- Romans 10 & 11, Philipians 2:3. Ephesians 1:11, 1 Cor. 12, Col. 1:15-9, Phil. 2:6-8, Gal. 5, Col. 3

Psalms, Habakkuk, 1 John --  3 combined

That means I went to a Christian church, heard 2 hours of preaching in a main service and a 1 hour Sunday-school lesson, yet with not one single quote or paraphrase from the lips of Jesus. On the other hand, in those same two hours, I heard 18 times Paul taught something.

Yet, if these teachers made the effort of research, Jesus spoke on persecution, and the other topics for which Paul was being quoted. It is tragic.

Despite this, the lessons were not bad. It is just obvious what is happening in seminary: the pastors are inundated with Paul, and are taught to preach Paul's gospel of Grace. They obviously know Paul and Jesus do not mesh well, so they have abandoned quoting Jesus to make less 'confusion' for those in the pews.

NOTE: On May 23, 2015, another sermon was 0 for Jesus, and 5 for Paul. Consequently, when the main pastor is not preaching, so far 3 different assistant pastors preached / taught for 1 hour - 3 hours total, and never once quoted Jesus, while quoting Paul a combined 23 times -- 5, 9, and 9 times respectively.

As Bonhoeffer says, we have developed a Christianity without Christ. Ironically, the lesson on Isaiah today - August 2- said that whoever we worship is our god. Clearly, Jesus is worshipped in name only by these assistant pastors. In practice and faith, Paul is invested by them with a virtual exclusive authority to speak to the church today.


D. Head Pastor December 19, 2015

This was a generally wholesome lesson that Christmas is a time of rest and celebration, and then the pastor shows from Leviticus 23:39-43 that this is the case under the law for its feast of Tabernacles. However, in the middle of this passage (which is a command to "children of Israel" not sojourners i.e., Gentiles), the pastor had to read out loud that this ordinance to "children of Israel" embarrasingly explained its duration:

It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. (Lev. 23:39-43.)

I wonder if the pastor remembered those words were there, because his snap explanation why we don't have to obey this command was weak. Of course, I would have said it is a command on "sons of Israel," and does not apply to Gentiles. That would have been easier to explain, and not contradictory of the passage. However, the pastor quickly blurted out that this passage was "obsolete" to resolve the moment of tension. Uggh. He said: 

This feast is Obsolete for the church. Jewish apostles made this clear. It is a shadow of things to come.

It is obvious the pastor meant Paul taught the Feast of Tabernacles is "obsolete." But that is a contradiction when read against a verse that says this command is "forever throughout your generations."

Then the pastor said we must "rest" at Christmas time, but made clear this does not mean on Sabbath. No, that has supposedly been done away with too. So the pastor says:

"Sabbath is obsolete as it says very clearly in the New Testament."

And this is from a pastor who preaches repentance is crucial for salvation. Other than holding tenasciously to that point in agreeement with Jesus, and at odds with several passages in Paul (e.g., Romans 4:3-5), it appears this pastor has bought hook, line and sinker the Pauline teachings on the Law's abrogation at odds with Jesus in Matthew 5:17-19.

 E.Main Pastor, 2/7/2016

This was a discussion of Luke 12:49-55. At one point the pastor had to quote Paul's lesson on salvation of family members, and whether Paul meant he was speaking always with inspiration in a certain statement. The pastor had to quickly comment on this statement of Paul: " "Unto the married I command, yet not I,  but the Lord .., but the rest is from me, not from the Lord” (I Cor. 7:10-12). To this the pastor snuck in that Paul meant that his first comment comes from Holy Scripture, but the second comment still was inspired as this came from Paul, not that it was not inspired.

I was amazed at how quickly a band-aid is applied, and the audience is expected to take it up credulously. (The next night, the pastor did not read verse 12, and instead started with verse 13...this more easily avoided the problem.)

Then the pastor had to talk about the very odd statement of Paul that a spouse is "sanctified" by being married to a believer, and so too the children:

14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified[c] by his wife. And the unbelieving wife has been sanctified by the brother. Otherwise then your children are unclean, but now [d] they are holy. (1 Cor. 10:7-14 DLNT.) 

This was the statement Paul said he did not get from God. We discussed this odd salvation message at this link. However, the Pastor did not want it to appear salvation comes by family-relation, and yet affirm Paul is inspired. The pastor had a dilemma. If someone is rendered "holy" by another, how is that not a picture of salvation? In other words, how can a "holy" person go to hell?   

The pastor first tried to say "holy" has 2 meanings -- (1) holy and adopted by God -- the day I became a Christian, and (2) the second it is used in a practical sense because I am increasingly holy, as I am trying to please the Lord.

After lifting up that supposed distinction, the pastor did another quick gloss. He said it means the spouse creates a holy influence, and has not made a spouse "holy." He exhorts you to have a holy-effect on others that they may become Christians. The problem is the pastor did not address that Paul said a spouse sanctifies their other spouse or child. The pastor is effectively changing and rewriting Paul's embarassing words. Again, there is one of the endless examples from Paul of incongruous statements which pastors feel compelled to solve by merely rewriting Paul's words.

Then later the pastor had to deal with Jesus' words in this passage from Luke 12 where Jesus says the "master of that servant comes at a time he did not expect," etc., and then for sinning (eating, drinking in revelry, abusing other servants), he will be "cut in pieces" and "cast into the place reserved for the APISTOS," -- those without faith. Well, this naturally reads contrary to Paul.

How did the pastor deal with this? He repeatedly used air quotes when speaking the word  'servant,' and even verbalized, "Servant in airquotes," to signify Jesus did not seriously mean a true servant of the Master but meant  a false servant. Hence, the Pauline reading makes the contradiction between Jesus and Paul disappear by negating the literal and serious point of Jesus' teaching.

 F. Head Paster for "Easter" Service March 26, 2016

This evening the pastor started great that faith alone does not cut the mustard, but he limited the other condition to be solely 'repentance' from sin. This was aimed at an audience who only comes once a year, and he obviously assumed are non-believers. So he was trying to get them to repent. His passage was based upon John 8:31-37. I was impressed as I had never seen what he saw in this passage, but it is right there. Here is the ESV version of those verses which follow Jesus saying they have to believe "I am he" -- the son of Man -- the prophesied Messiah in Daniel 9:25:

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. (John 8:31-37 KJV)

This talks of those Jews who "believed on him" -- The word "him" (autos) is in the dative case, meaning "to him." Some translations try to obscure this by rendering it "believed him." See NIV, ESV. But the head pastor tonight correctly said it meant they "believed on him." The pastor tied it to Jesus' prior statement before verse 31 that he was "son of Man" -- equal to meaning the Messiah. So these were Jews who believed on Jesus as Messiah, the head pastor pointed out.

So the pastor now said not in so many words that faith alone is not enough. He said:

Many people in Church this weekend will be saying "I am listening to some of what Jesus says, and I will believe facts about him, but I am not going to comply with what he teaches me." This is what it means in the passage that 'my words have no place in you.'

The pastor continued, and said that this represents "selective belief." Then the head pastor said, "all across America people are flooding into churches where they are allowed to say 'I'll take some of what Christ said, but not all of it.'"

As I listened, My spirit was jumping in my chest, I was so overjoyed to hear this.  Where was this going I wondered? The pastor continued to teach that Christianity is not about "belief in facts about who Jesus is," and he gave an apt example.

What if I told you I have become an expert at throwing Chinese stars? And you said "I believe you." But what if I then asked you to stand across the room far away with an apple on your head, and I want to prove it to you. Now you have to believe more than facts about me. A compliance to me is what I am asking, and only if my words find a place in your heart, and you abide in my word -- it goes both ways, you will do what I say.

The pastor several times referred to "compliance" is necessary beyond mere belief in facts 'about Jesus.'  The pastor is evidently aware of the alternative meaning of pisteuo in John 3:16 which is most typically translated as "believe." He said: "You have to be compliant to what I ask," is the meaning of his example with the apple and asian star. Our response is supposed to be "I am going to follow, be compliant to your words." The pastor commented it has an element of trust. 

It is that trust in the words of Jesus that will free us from sin.

Then the pastor plastered over this 'no worry' message found often in Paul. He quoted Ephesians 1:11 that salvation is "guaranteed" to me "if I am in Christ."  Well, it doesn't say it in those words, so lets quote Ephesians 1:11:

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11 NIV.)

So the message came to the point that a Christian will necessarily be someone who sometimes sins, but does not make a practice of sin. For Jesus defines one who "practices sin" as a slave of sin, but we are "set free" -- and this according to Paul "guarantees" our later salvation.

Hence, Jesus must mean we are not simply set free from sin when Jesus' words abide in us and we follow them, but supposedly we have a fundamental change in our nature, and this is why Paul says we are "guaranteed" salvation in Ephesians 1:11 from the moment of faith (to which the pastor addeded repentance).

Thus, the doctrine of eternal security from Paul is overlayed on Jesus' words. Sadly, this Pauline spin eviscerates Jesus' entire point that believing in Him without obedience does not save. This pastor has taught repentance from sin once followed or joined with faith, guarantees salvation. The pastor, based upon Paul, says this condition of ongoing repentance, is of no concern to one who repented from sin ONCE while accepting facts about Jesus. However, this is not what Jesus was saying, nor what Jesus teaches elsewhere.

This is not, for example, what Jesus taught in Luke 12 -- when Jesus spoke about the servant who loses patience for his master's return, and thinks the master is delaying, and turns to eating and drinking sinfully, abusing other servants of the master, etc. Then his master returns at an hour his servant does not expect, and his Master will throw his servant in outer darkness where the APISTON go --APISTON meaning those who never believed or never were faithful. (In Greek the letter "A" is a negative prefix, like our "non" in English; PISTON means believer or faithful or obedient one). In Jesus' lesson, there was no predestined decree for that servant, contrary to what Paul promised in Ephesians 1:1 as the pastor related. Rather, there was damnation. Why? The servant "lost patience," and believed his master "delays," and won't find out about this bad behavior.

And this truth came across the pastor's lips when he quoted Luke 12 in just the last sermon above we summarized. What did the head pastor do with Jesus' words? He put "servant" in airquotes, and even told us out loud to read it "servant in airquotes" -- meaning Jesus did not want us to seriously believe a true servant can end up with the same fate as the APISTON. Now we learn in today's sermon why - the pastor is trying to reconcile Paul's' guarantee" in Ephesians 1:11 with Jesus' obvious threat of damnation on a sinning servant of His. Which way did the pastor go? He went in Paul's favor, and eviscerated Jesus' words. 

Mind you, this pastor is virtually on the door step of truth -- it is coming across his lips. He is simply forcing Jesus to conform to Paul solely because of his belief that Paul speaks for God. What do you think would happen if he treated Jesus' Words Only as a principle of reading the NT portion of the Bible?


 

Head Pastor 10/22/2016 - Lost Sheep in Luke 15.

Here is a parable that uses words that make it impossible to believe a saved sheep of a shepherd cannot become lost. Nor can one ignore that some sheep are "righteous" and do not "need repentance" unlike the "sinner" sheep who is lost and impliedly needs to do -- because the "righteous" sheep are not actually sinning, and hence need no repentance (from sin). Only the sheep of the shepherd who wandered away need repentance from sin as Jesus calls them "sinners." Jesus uses this parable to explain why he is seeking to bring sinners to repentance by eating with them while Pharisees do not do so.

However, a Pauline pastor must re-word and highly spin the passage to ignore these propblems. In Luke 15:1-7 in the ESV which the pastor used on 10/22 read: 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The pastor does not exposit the language initially. Instead, he goes into a sermon that this is about reaching "lost persons," not lost sheep who once belonged to the shepherd in this story. The pastor says that if you believe, you are saved, and you have taken care of the most important thing. This means you are wasting your time on relatively unimportant things when you focus on living righteously yourself. Don't worry about that -- that issue is resolved, the pastor says. The best thing to do is to lead someone else into a saved relationship with Christ by having them come to faith and initial repentance from sin. Again, you need not worry about the relatively unimportant obedience to follow. The pastor cites Paul as teaching that we will find at the judgment seat of Christ that our works are either gold, silver or worthless stubble. The pastor is showing you some works are gold and some silver. The gold is obviously leading someone else to Christ. The silver or stubble is trying to be obedient to Christ after your initial salvation.

This message undermines Jesus's entire point. For the pastor right at the beginning warned you against ever being concerned that in fact you are a lost sheep who is sinning, and need repentance from sin. This was Jesus' true point. For Jesus speaks as the good shepherd in the parable that he looks for "my sheep that was lost," to bring it to "repentance" because it represents a "sinner who repents." So you see the aspect of the parable that contradicts Paul is ignored, and covered over in advance before you can hear Jesus talk UNAIDED by this spin.

Head pastor July 14, 2017  

Well, the head pastor once a year holds a question and answer session as the main service. So that was this past weekend. I was surprised to find out that our pastor is a five point Calvinist.  And he disclosed that he was in support of the Lordship salvation position of John MacArthur. As a result, now I know why I often like what the head pastor says. So he reiterated that it is a "Satanic lie"  that you can just believe Jesus saves you, and you do not have to turn in obedience to him.  He explained that the whole notion of repentance is a turning of obedience. It implies you already believe. So it is belief plus something more. The head pastor did not directly address how this impacts Paul's words such as in First corinthians 15:1-6.  

I did find it ironic that he then teaches that a Christian will invariably be saved and cannot lose their salvation due to disobedience.  So it appears that he believes that there is a repentance from an old life turning towards obedience besides faith that initially saved you, and guarantees your salvation despite later sin. He only disparages the doctrine that salvation is secured if you believe alone, and that others teach you can even deny Christ later and you'll still be saved.  But he doesn't realize that his doctrine is just one step away from that because he only requires obedience on a temporary level.  Hence the same lie he called Satanic is still present in half of his doctrine but not all of it.  

There was another ironic moment where someone asked him about whether we could pray with non-Christians. There he asked that if the context was that you were asking a non-Christian to lead the blessing over your food or implied in any way that the other person was saved without Christ. He said that then you would be giving them a false  assurance that they are saved.  

The reason I found this ironic is that the Lordship salvation doctrine he espoused encourages people to believe that if they originally believed repented and turned towards obedience that they are saved and are eternally secure.  But I would say that that doctrine poses the same risk of giving a false insurance to someone that they are saved despite sinning.  

One final comment. A person from the audience asked him what about Hebrews 6:4-6 and that the people are said to have tasted of the Holy Spirit and fell away.  The pastor responded saying that he had done a five-part series that can be found online  that would explain each and every aspect of these people to prove that they were never saved.  He said that people even in the audience listening to him are being touched by the Holy Spirit but that they have not yet received it and therefore they taste  an experience of the Holy Spirit in the same ways these people in Hebrews chapter 6.  But that is inconsistent in my view with the fact that the writer of Hebrews says these people fell away.  What did they fall away from?

Also, if you believe Paul is inspired, Paul says in Galatians that those who thought it necessary to be circumcised or follow the custom of Sabbath observance are severed from Christ.  Paul clearly identifies people who are Christians initially who are doing acts of a obedience towards God which they thought would be necessary in addition to faith  who once belonged to Christ who Paul says are now severed from Christ.  

Incidentally, when he went to defend the five points of Calvinism, he said that you really only need to know the first one because the other four points follow from the first one.  Now the question was whether God loves everyone and how does that fit in with the five points of Calvinism.  Now the five points of Calvinism he mentioned have an acronym of TULIP  where T stands for the word total depravity.  He said that the Bible is clear that no one become saved and we are regenerated only if God first moves in our heart to have us regenerated.  

But the pastor didn't disclose that that's only true with Paul. In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus says the son comes to his senses and then turns around.  And in Calvinism, it is just simply God's arbitrary choice having nothing to do with what you have done that saves you. But inside the 10 Commandments after the first commandment, God says he shows his mercy to those who love him and obey his commandments. There is nothing arbitrary about God's salvation in Jesus' words and the words God spoke to Moses.  

The head pastor had an interesting explanation of how God loves the world but doesn't necessarily save every one.  You can have a God who hates the wicked, but loves them in the sense of wanting them to turn in repentance to be saved.  So when the Bible says God does not hear the prayers of the wicked, this is simply a way of saying that if your heart has not returned to repentance, God's not listening. For of course God always actually can hear every prayer, but he doesn't respect the one praying  in some instances.  

Head pastor July 21, 2017  

To my shock and dismay, the pastor last evening took back everything he previously said last weekend about faith alone being a Satanic lie. The shocking reversal makes me wonder if the elders did not like what they heard, and the pastor was pushed to such a direct contradiction. I don't think many members even noticed because they are not atune to church history on this issue. Anyway, here is what the pastor said.

First, let me just point out that the pastor never once quoted Jesus.

Second, the pastor used non-Biblical concepts such as that a human father would show grace to a son without works. This may or may not be true among most fathers, and it may depend on the circumstances. Our perception what it means to be a gracious Father does not dictate what our heavenly father must do for us. For clearly in the Ten Commandments, the principle of "grace" and "mercy" is expressed just before the second commandment in a different manner: "I extend mercy to those who love me and obey my commandments."

Third, the pastor only used the example of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42) to persuade us that we have no more need of works than did the thief; and the thief supposedly had faith alone. However, this is false. The two thieves initially reviled Jesus. But later, one of the thieves thought better of it. And he did not merely change his belief about Jesus in his mind, but [1] he also reproved his fellow-thief, [2] defended Jesus' innocence and [3] acknowledged Jesus' kingship in front of troops holding spears who easily could spear him in retaliation for what he just said.  And the latter constituted also an open "confession" of Jesus "before men." Paulinists say that his faith alone saved him, not they deny the confession before men played any role, as it is a work. But Jesus said a "confession before men" would save you (Luke 12:8), conjoined with repentance and belief as well. This is certainly a work that God can graciously extend forgiveness for when someone is like the thief -- coming to his senses just before he dies. (We discuss this in full in Chapter 17 of JWO.)

Thus, by a glib fast-paced rat-tat-tat lesson, all Jesus' other parables and messages about faith and works are wiped out.

Now we turn to the lesson tonight.  The main text we read was Colossians 1:12-14. Paul in verse 12 says we "give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." What qualification did God give us? The pastor could have consistent with last week said that he qualified us by means of our love and obedience, as it says in Exodus 20:6. However, the pastor insisted that each of us who has made the step of faith is "fully qualified" and "met all the requirements" that God will every on us to live with us forever.

The pastor then went over to Philipians 3:6 where Paul says "as to righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault," and "I was a Pharisee, the strictest sect of Judaism."

Before I explain his application, how did the pastor not gag on the 2 lies in one verse. For (1) Paul was "a blasphemer" and "violent man," conspiring in non-judicial murders of believers, by his own admission elsewhere, prior to becoming a Christian; and (2.) the Pharisees were loose about the Law, as Jesus complained in Matt 23:23, which is noted by Josephus as well as the Qumram Dead Sea Scrolls. But these were Philippians who lived far from Jerusalem, and could be fulled by the big lies in both claims. I never focused upon Philippians 3:6, so I never recognized these lies until now. Unfortunately, this was no thanks to the pastor.