Jean’s Gospel: Allegory of the Barren Church

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26 Responses

  1. Mr Jesperson says:

    There is nothing quite like letting the Scriptures speak for themselves, so with no further commentary from me, here is more of them that make up the context from the same book of Galatians, which makes up most of Jean’s argument in this post:

    “4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
    10 You observe days and months and seasons and years!

    5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
    7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
    13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
    Keep in Step with the Spirit
    16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
    25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

  2. Babylon's Dread says:

    I believe there is only one text in the New Covenant scriptures that describes us as sinners, in James. I know this could ensue a debate over Romans 7 but let’s just say no.

    Overall I loved this presentation. I see the calvinist overtones all over the narrative and I find them unnecessary and imputed into the language but the exegesis is well said.

    For me the legalist of today are the abundant neo-judaizers of various messianic ilk.

    The addition of the sonship narratives of Romans and Galatians would sweeten the dialogue considerably but

    Well done

    Saint Dread

  3. Jean says:

    Mr. J,

    Forgive me if I’m dense, but are you disagreeing with something (everything) I wrote, or agreeing, or just adding additional Scripture?

  4. Jean says:


    What about 1John 1:8-10 and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12, 12-14?

  5. Mr Jesperson says:

    Who says that I need to agree or disagree? All Scripture has a context and it is good to note it. How about the fruits of the flesh: enmity, strife, divisions and dissensions? I agree with Dread about Calvinist overtones being imputed into your interpretation. That is not a sin, but is certainly a bias. My best friend is a Calvinist, by the way. Our relationship goes way beyond disagreeing over minor points of doctrine. My beliefs are closer to NT Wright. The text is about Judaizers in a first century context. Paul knew nothing about the corruption that would overtake Rome and the reaction to that by the Reformers. The text means something today for I know of one woman who converted to Judaism from Christianity when she married a Jew. She threw away her faith in Jesus, just as Galatians states.

  6. Jean says:


    You’re a Calvinist. Could you help me identify the Calvinist overtones? I’m not trying to argue with anyone, but not being a Calvinist myself, I have no idea what that means.

    But I appreciate all the feedback.

  7. Michael says:


    Whenever anything is written celebrating monergism, the sovereignty of God in salvation, people think “Calvinism”.

    I think “biblical”.

  8. Michael says:

    Also, for some odd reason , the precious doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is considered Calvinistic…

  9. Jean says:

    Thanks for clarifying Michael. I hope both your 7 and 8 are evident in the article. I was following Lutheran tradition, but there is substantial overlap between Luther and Calvin on those two points.

  10. Josh the Baptist says:

    I want to be the first Calvinistic Arminian.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Mr J – wouldn’t a non Calvinist view be biased?

  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Babs, how many mentions in the Bible before you believe something? If James were the only reference and we are not still sinners, then is James in error? Are you channeling your old Lutheran thoughts?

  13. Lutheran says:

    I Timothy1:15 — Paul is speaking in the present tense.

    The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

  14. Em ... again says:

    no one in their right mind would deny that we Christian are sinners, but sometimes the attempts to explain sainthood coexisting with sin gets very tangled 🙂

    James does explain the double-minded man pretty well

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Joyce Myer says that she is not a sinner. In reference to I am a poor miserable sinner she once said that she was not poor, she was not miserable and she was not a sinner.

    Ted Haggard 6 months before his fall said on Issues etc that he was not a sinner and he told Todd Wilkin the host “if you keep sinning you should stop.

    Most evangelicals are reluctant to admit they are sinners after justification – this is why they change the verbs from present tenser to — well they really don’t change them, they say they can still be interpreted as a past term in a present term way. Very silly stuff.

    And they definitely deny they are 100% saint (justified) and at the same time 100% sinner. Evangelicals prefer to think of themselves more like 80/20 … with a bullet meaning they are going up (you would have to be a 60s tops 40s fan to understand. 😉 )

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Here is the Joyce Myer quote — good stuff;

    “I’m going to tell you something folks, I didn’t stop sinning until I finally got it through my thick head I wasn’t a sinner anymore. And the religious world thinks that’s heresy and they want to hang you for it. But the Bible says that I’m righteous and I can’t be righteous and be a sinner at the same time … All I was ever taught to say was, ‘I’m a poor, miserable sinner.’ I am not poor, I am not miserable and I am not a sinner. That is a lie from the pit of hell. That is what I was and if I still am then Jesus died in vain. Amen?”

  17. Jean says:

    Explaining sainthood with sinner-hood, which for a Christian are as undivided, yet inseparable, as the incarnation of Christ himself (who was like us in every way, but without sin), is difficult to fathom for many Christians, because of the Wesleyan theology which lies in the background of American evangelicalism.

    If pastor’s taught their flock the doctrine of simul justus et peccator (simultaneously saint and sinner), I suspect Michael would be out of a job as a blogger of church scandal. If pastor’s taught the doctrine of simul justus et peccator, churches would not have a Moses model clergy which encourages pastors to abuse their flock, turn them away from Christ, and do the will of the prince of this world. If pastors taught this doctrine, maybe the public wouldn’t think Christians are a bunch of hypocritical jerks.

    Jesus did his level best to kill our self righteousness: Die to self; take up your cross; turn the other cheek; forgive your offender every time; sell all your stuff; etc. How do we relativize His teaching? Who is denying himself around here? Anyone?

    Is there any doubt that any righteousness we have in God’s eyes is Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by his perfect obedience? Christ is the one who laid down his life, who denied himself, who carried the cross for us. He did all the stuff that God requires, that we can’t. Right?

    If anyone wants to please God, listen to Christ:

    “Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'” (John 6:28-29)

  18. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Just call it the simul — my tongue gets a charlie horse trying to say the whole thing 😉

  19. Steve Wright says:

    churches would not have a Moses model clergy which encourages pastors to abuse their flock, turn them away from Christ, and do the will of the prince of this world.

  20. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Uh oh — David woke up Goliath. 🙂

  21. Jean says:

    I think we saw the Moses model priesthood in action with the Ortiz sermon which was given at CC Albuquerque last week. But to be fair, he was just being faithful to the CC distinctive, which I quote in part below:

    “In the church today we see this structure in a modified form. We see that Jesus
    Christ is the Head over the body of the church. It’s His church. He’s the One in
    charge. As pastors, we need to be like Moses, in touch with Jesus and receiving
    His direction and guidance. As pastors we need to be leading the church in such
    a way that the people know that the Lord is in control. Then, when issues come
    up, we can say, “Well, let me pray about that.” “Let me seek the wisdom of the
    Lord on this.” “Let’s look for the Lord’s guidance.” Also, like Moses, within the
    church we have a Board of Elders who are there to pray with us and support us
    in seeking the Lord’s leading for the church.”

    So, is the pastor receiving Jesus “direction and guidance” outside His Word, in a special revelation which the congregation isn’t privy to? Is this not exactly what the Pope claims for himself as the Vicar of Christ? Is the canon closed or is it open to CC pastors?

    Now, if CC pastors are not sinners, if they are fully sanctified, so that they hear Christ without the corruption of self-interest, and if the Holy Spirit is giving special revelation to the CC pastors, then I am totally wrong and will apologize. But, if the Moses model is the spawn of Satan, then I would highly recommend that anyone under such a model leave immediately.

  22. Xenia says:

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

  23. Babylon's Dread says:

    I didn’t say we have no sin,

    To clarify I am saying the overwhelming emphasis is not our sinfulness but our beloved status in Christ as sons and saints of God.

    Mr Jespersen is all over it.

    I thought the article was excellent and said so… but when I see a Reformed reference to legalism I know it references the Catholic errors of the 16th century more than the Judaism of the first century. Being saved from hell by good works is not a first century Jewish thought form IMO.

    But please accept that I thought it to be wonderful writing and decent exegesis

  24. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Adherence to the Law and the rites of the temple priesthood and sacrificial system (good works) was very much first century Jewish thought.

    Look at the Pharisee and the tax collector as the Pharisee ticks off his good works to pay homage to a God who can and will destroy.

    NT Wright is wrong. 🙂

  25. Em ... again says:

    if one accepts that the “new birth” is a real birth and not an allegory, then all the other pieces fall into place
    were we Ishmael’s progeny before being born again? or is the old, rebel dying man an Ishmaelite? i don’t know… but my flesh is the same as Adam’s (& Eve’s), corrupted and dying – my soul is another matter – my conduct can serve either God or my flesh and does…

    God keep

  26. Jean says:

    “The pleasure of novelty is by its very nature more subject than any other to the law of diminishing returns. And continued novelty costs money, so that the desire for it spells avarice or unhappiness or both. And again, the more rapacious this desire, the sooner it must eat up all the innocent sources of pleasure and pass on to those [God] forbids.”
    – C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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