The Robbing Of The Believers Position In Christ
Through Religion, Tradition And Denominationalism
Pastor C. Douglas Dodd
Berean Bible Church – Edgewater, Florida
This is the text of a book I am writing and therefore not finished. I will be adding to it as time allows. I am intrested in your feedback.
I like to know how things work. After “getting saved” in 1971 it wasn’t long before I noticed that it was hard to get answers to fundamental question involving the believers walk.
One of the benefits of learning how to study the Word Of God from a dispensational point of view was getting answers to questions.
For years I longed to know how to have real victory over sin. I was given all kinds of advice but no one ever told me about the mechanics of the nature of the believer and what has been done on his behalf through the provision of God.
I think the sin issue is a real concern for most believers. They want to know how to stop it and its influence. The good news is that it is explained in detail in the Pauline epistles. Never once in denominational circles was I ever directly directed to verses that detailed my position “in Christ”.
I was told to “confess your sins”. Ok, now what? I was told “don’t do that”. Ok, so how do I stop it? I was told “pray about it”. Ok, now what?
Never once was I told that I am “complete in Christ”. Paul was instructed to say it like this. “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Colossians 2:10.
Knowing, not wishing, thinking or hoping, but KNOWING who you are “in Christ” makes all the difference. Religion does not have the answers to the questions that set the believer free to serve the Lord. If they do have the answers they are not forthcoming with them. Ditto for Tradition and Denominationalism.
Believers are being robbed by pastors, popes, preachers and pretenders of the knowledge contained within the pages of the Word of God concerning their position “in Christ”. Some are even paying for the obfuscation that has become the modern church.
Your Christian life will not operate on the basis of ignorance. There are some things you need to know. You need to know how the doctrines of grace work.
If you are saved you have been made part of what God is doing today and he has fully equipped you to do his will. He has not left you here unprepared, unprotected or unprovisioned.
It is the application of this knowledge, revealed in the Pauline epistles that allows the believer to fully appreciate the role of the Creator in our daily lives.
God wants us to serve him but he wants us to serve him from a heart of gratitude and thanks for what he has done for us in his death, burial and resurrection.
Now listen. If you have never been exposed to the doctrines of the “grace life” you may get upset a time or two as you read this book. That’s ok. Just keep reading. You will probably throw this book away several times. Just use a clean trash can because you will want to get it out again.
We are going to take some things away from you. Things your flesh loves and wants to keep and some things that you have been taught to accept, but I promise you the things you give up will be replaced by something far more valuable.
You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad or the truth will set you free. Usually both happen when dealing with the truth. First we get mad, then we understand and then the liberty comes!
You Are Being Robbed
“The reason your child is sick is because you have not been paying your tithes!” – Overheard at a hospital
This quote is illustrative of the kind of doctrine you will find in the modern church. If you believe such a notion you have been robbed. Not only financially but more importantly spiritually. Your Identity has been stolen from you. And since it has been stolen then you are not able to function the way that God intends for you to function.
You are being robbed every time you are compelled to conform to a religious system of works. You are being robbed when you pay your tithes, when you confess your sins, when you are water baptized, when you try to keep the commandments. You are being robbed. And you are being taught to rob others by putting them on a performance based system of acceptance that is contrary to the teachings of the Apostle Paul. You are being robbed. No gun is used. No gun is necessary. Guilt, pride and ignorance of the truth will do just fine.
Most “Christians” think they have to do something to please God. You say your prayers, you pay your tithes, you help old ladies across the street, you try to do your best and still you have illness, bills, tribulation and flat tires.
Religion, tradition and denominationalism is going to tell you that God uses the circumstances of life to get back at you when you “fall off the wagon”. You are being ROBBED!
Do you really think that God is interested in the least in what your flesh can produce? It is not about you. It is about the Son of God. It is about “Christ living in and through the believer”.
This is not a very popular teaching. Why? Because in the end result is that every believer must become responsible for what he knows. Every believer must become accountable for what God has given him. This is devastating to the leaders of organized religion, tradition and denominationalism for two reasons.
1. Loss of control over the assembly.
2. Loss of income.
Let me qualify that.
Number one: Loss of control over the assembly.
Preaching grace results in the believer being set free from the bondage of “church hierarchy”. There is no such thing, in the Pauline epistles as clergy and laity.
There is a distinction made between the saints and the faithful saints (Eph. 1:1) but again this has to do with the application of sound doctrine rather than allegiance to the man behind the pulpit or a contrived doctrinal statement. The proper role of the pastor is that of a servant. He is to be a leader no doubt, but he is not to be a ruler, dictator or the final authority.
The role of the pastor is outlined in Ephesians chapter four. Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
The job of the pastor is to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry which in turn edifies (build up and establish) the local body of Christ to do the will of God (which we will cover later on).
Preaching the “grace life” relieves the pastor of the responsibility of being in charge of the saints and gives him the responsibility to teach them grace doctrine that will allow them to become stable in their faith. To educate them as to “who they already are In Christ”. More on this issue in another book.
Preaching the “grace life” also relieves the believer of the burden of being on a performance based system of acceptance. The issue here is the difference between “conformation of the world” and “transformation in Christ”.
Non grace based churches labor under this conformation of the world system. It is completely external and it is robbery. Every assembly has its own flavor, style, attitude, it has a particular character. A new believer coming into an assembly begins to take on this character. He begins to “act” like the people with whom he fellowships. He begins to be “conformed” to character of that assembly. His dress may change, his vocabulary may change his life may even change for the good but it will be an external conformation.
Grace based assemblies understand this and are careful to continually point the new believer towards the word of God and Christ rather than individuals within the assembly.
Transformation on the other hand comes from the inside out.
It is the result of Christ living in and through the believer.
The wonderful thing about grace life doctrine is that we understand that we already have completeness, total forgiveness and the acceptance of God. There is nothing for us to do to become worthy for we already are “in Christ”.
The verse we use to describe this advancement in understanding is Galatians 2:20.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
There is no ambiguity in this verse.
It does not need to be interpreted.
It does not need to be retranslated.
It does not need to be spiritualized.
It needs to be believed.
When the life in this verse becomes active in the lives of the saints of a local assembly the world will take note of the transformation as the life of Christ is put on public display through the lives of grace motivated saints.
Number Two: Loss of income.
Preaching grace just does not pay financially.
You cannot get rich off of it.
This is because the grace believer is responsible to God for his time, talents and treasures not the man behind the pulpit or an offering plate shoved under his nose each week.
Because of this many grace assemblies strain to meet budgets and pay pastors (and they should be paid) but its ok. A grace preacher knows that everyone in a grace assembly is on a different level of understanding. Therefore each saint will respond to God and the needs of the assembly according to their own understanding and application of sound doctrine.
As the saints grow in grace the bills will get paid not because they are made to feel guilty or under the law but because that is what they want to do. It is the reflection of the life of Christ in them. Paul sums it up like this:
2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
In short you are being robbed of your identity in Christ every time you are expected to “act” a certain way or “give” a certain amount of your time, talent and treasure. But when those things become an extension of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ living in you, you become that living sacrifice which is acceptable to God.
Works Or Grace A Basic Question
Paul in writing to the Galatians asks a fundamental question. “having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Gal.3:3
The answer to this question will be based upon the doctrine that you have been taught. Of course you will have to be objective in your answer which is often hard to do when find that the truth you are holding to may not be “the truth” after all.
History is replete with illustrations of this fact. For example in the 17th century Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, and others believed light was instantaneous.
The velocity of “c” was considered infinite. In 1677 Olaf Roemer measured the elapsed time between eclipses of Jupiter with its moons, yielding a finite speed of light. And yet for fifty years controversy raged over this measurable fact.
In 1729 James Bradley confirmed Roemer’s work and the scientific community slowly began to accept the fact that they had been wrong. The speed of light was not instantaneous nor infinite.
The Galatians had been robbed of their identity in Christ by allowing the law of Moses to take the place of the life of Christ as a result they were in fact robbing themselves of their identity in Christ.
Paul reminds us: … the strength of sin is the law. 1 Cor 15:56. What does this mean? It means that application of the law makes sin stronger. This is true in salvation and in sanctification.
The idea that a sinner can do anything to merit the favor of God is absolutely foreign to the Paul and his message of grace. Religion, tradition and denominationalism have so muddied the waters on this issue that finding a clear gospel testimony today is like finding a needle in a haystack. The sinner has only one hope. The sinner has only one way. The sinner only has one truth to which he can expect deliverance from his doomed, dominated and sin driven condition.
He cannot pray enough, give enough, be good enough, be water baptized enough, or keep the laws of Moses enough to merit the unmerited favor of God.
I remember talking to a man in Orlando Florida some years ago on this very topic. He felt he was a good man and could merit the favor of God. So I asked him, “If you were to stand before God tonight and he should ask you why should I let you into my heaven what would you say?” This is a good question and you should think about what answer you would have to it.
He said to me that he keeps the ten commandments. I said oh good. Could you name them for me in order? He could not list them and even he could it is not the issue. The issue is what Christ has done not what we can do. You are being robbed of your identity in Christ every time you substitute the law of Moses for the life of Christ dwelling in you.
Most Americans believe there are only ten commandments to be kept. However there are over 600 points of the law of Moses. And before you go through the nonsense of dividing them up into civil and moral laws and the ones you prefer over the others let me remind you what the book says about it.
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Again, there is no ambiguity in this verse.
If you break one law you are guilty of them all.
Picture in your mind a drive in the country.
It is in the fall of the year.
The leaves are turning and it is just beautiful.
So beautiful in fact that you loose track of your speed.
In your rear view mirror you see a flashing blue light.
The policeman pulls you over, tells you that you were speeding and begins to write you a ticket. Then another and another and another until he has written you a ticket for every thing over which he has jurisdiction.
An oversimplification for sure but you get the point.
You see the law was not designed to bring about justification it was designed to bring about guilt.
Rom 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Not only are the works of the law called into question by Paul but works of any kind. You simply cannot mix the grace of God and works.
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (More on this phrase later).
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
The verses are plain enough and the question Paul raised Galatians is a valid one, “having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Gal.3:3
The only way to obtain eternal life is by grace, the provision of God, through faith, believing what God has said in his word. The believers walk works exactly the same way. A basic problem in churches is the mixing of standing and state of the believer. Let me be very clear at this point and the remarks will self justify as we work through this study.
1. You are not saved by grace and then kept by works.
2. You are not saved by works and then kept by works.
3. You are not saved by grace plus works and kept by grace plus works.
4. You are not saved by works and then kept by grace.
5. You are not saved by works plus anything.
6. You are not saved by grace plus anything.
7. You are saved by grace and kept by grace plus nothing and minus nothing.
The Key To The Bible
It Is In The Pauline Epistles Alone That You Will Find The Doctrine, Duty And Destiny Of The Church The Body Of Christ
We now anticipate the objection of other verses in the scriptures that seem to contradict what we have just said. However there are no contradictions in the word of God when you study the book the way it was intended. That way is called “right division” and the formula is found in 2Timothy 2:15.
It is through the application of this verse that we learn the principle of “giving to Israel what belongs to Israel and giving to the Body of Christ what belongs to the Body of Christ.
2 Tim 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
If we are to rightly divide the word of truth where do we make the divisions? What did the Holy Spirit have in mind when he had Paul write 2Timothy 2:15 down? QED!
Let’s look at verse seven and eight of the same passage.
2 Tim 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
These two verses are just loaded with information. Information about the key to understanding the Word of God. To avoid making assumptions and missing details we are going to take these to verses apart. We are going to compare scripture with scripture.1 Cor 2:13
1. Consider what I say 2 Tim 2:7a
Consider what Paul has to say! Just consider it. Why? Because of who he was made by Christ and in Christ.
Rom 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Paul “is” THE apostle to the Gentiles. This is his “office”. His official position in the Body of Christ is “the apostle to the Gentiles”. Paul does not magnify himself he magnifies his office. As the sent one, apostle or messenger to us in the age of grace we would do well to consider what he has to say.
Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles is not up for debate or discussion. It does not need to be voted on, retranslated, adopted or accepted. It needs to be believed. You are suffering from Identity Theft. Your apostle has been stolen from you. The very person who is to give you the information about who you are and how you are to function, has been hog tied and abducted from modern “churchianity”.
Quick… run down to the nearest “Baskin Robbins Church” and ask the first ten religionist this question. “Who is your apostle?” Save yourself some time. Here are the answers you will get.
a. My what? This will come from the ones who have no idea what you are talking about.
b. Peter! This will come from the ones who think they have and idea.
c. Jesus! This will come from the ones who think they are spiritual.
d. I don’t know! This will come from the ones who are honest enough to know they don’t know.
What you will not get is Paul. And yet the scriptures are very clear on the subject. Paul is our apostle today. And he is our apostle because God made him so.
Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Paul is our apostle by the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father and by the Holy Spirit that penned the words. No vote needed, none asked for! I don’t mean to be rude but the fact is that you have been Robbed! Your identity has been stolen!
And I have been there. What a relief to know where to go in the scriptures to find the verses written to you. To know the doctrines of deliverance and how they work. I have set on the side of a river bank. I have prayed to God to know his power. I told God I don’t want to move a mountain just a rock will do. I have known the frustration of thinking God was mad at me for something I had done. What freedom! What deliverance! What joy comes from having your identity restored to you.
There is this idea that Paul got saved and then followed Peter and the eleven around trying to be like them. I even know people that teach Paul “is” one of the twelve even though Paul did not meet any of the qualifications to be one of the twelve.
Qualifications to be one of the twelve you say?
Acts 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.
Judas is dead. There has to be 12 apostles one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. So the 11 know its time to pick another guy. Just one though. The one who will be chosen is Matthias. Lets keep score between Paul & Matthias and see who wins.
Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
Now there are several qualifications here:
1. He had to have been in the company of believers that companied together around the Lord Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry.
Paul 0 Matthias 1
2. This company had a start and finish marked by the words “beginning” and “unto” in verse 22. Paul was absent on both accounts.
Paul 0 Matthias 3
Acts 1:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
Paul 0 Matthias 4
Acts 1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Paul 0 Matthias 5
Matthias wins 5 to zip.
No recount needed! God did not send Paul to the 12 tribes of Israel. Did Paul ever minister to them. Yes he did, but that does not mean he was sent to them. Does Peter ever minister to the Gentiles? Yes he does, but that does not mean he was sent to them. You see you have been robbed of your identity “in Christ”. You have been using a faked I.D. that has put you under a short account system so that you never ever reach your potential “in Christ”. God sent Peter and the eleven to Israel and he sent Paul to the Gentiles as we see in the next verse.
Gal 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Yes I know the new and improved versions (sic) of the Bible change the prepositions to make this all one kind of gospel but sometimes when you change soap you get a rash.
In any case the verse ties the rag on the bush for those of us who take the Word of God seriously. Peter was sent to the circumcision, the Jews. And Paul was sent to the uncircumcision, the Gentiles.
Paul is constantly condemned in secular religious circles as being a loose canon and rebel preaching whatever he wanted. Paul says he is not a liar when he claims to the sent to the Gentiles.
1 Tim 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. 2 Tim 1:11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Since Paul is our apostle it is only logical that Paul would have the instructions necessary for me to find my true identity.
You are being robbed of your identity “in Christ” every time you are told to follow the pattern of Peter, James, John or to build your walk on a set of instructions that are not written to you.
Paul, not Peter nor the eleven is your pattern for today.
I know what you have been taught. So was I.
I know what you have believed. So did I.
I also know that you may have difficulty letting go of traditional thinking but you must, for Paul is not only our apostle but our pattern as well.
1 Tim 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
Paul is our pattern today in the age of grace we are to consider what he has to say if we are going to “rightly divide” the word of truth.
2 Tim 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
2. and the Lord give the understanding in all things.
More To Come...