“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient “ (1 Tim. 1:8-9).
At the heart of Christian legalism is a denial of the truth of the Gospel, and therefore a denial of God’s Sovereignty, of His Son and of the work of His Holy Spirit. It places God’s people into cruel, oppressive bondage and replaces the perfection and completion of the salvific work of Jesus Christ, with sick, depraved human traditions. Speaking out against the error of legalism, as I have done previously in Parts 1 and 2 of this article, by accepting the example set by Jesus, in no way constitutes creating a licence to sin. There are no two things in the world more directly opposed to one another than law and grace.
Righteousness and our acceptance by God can never come by way of legalism. Neither can justification, nor sanctification. By no means do I intend to indicate hereby that true, saved believers are antinomian (against the law), which seems to have become a fashionable term being bandied about with much self-righteous zeal. The boundaries which govern that which constitutes true antinomianism are subject to a million varied interpretations, remain practically undefined and are all subject to human interpretation. However, many legalists seem to be under the impression that every true believer who opposes legalism and works based salvation, or for that matter is found to have committed sin, is by definition antinomian. Continue reading →
Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (30) and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Our study tonight takes us to the third chapter of the book of Galatians in our continuing look at this most exciting and helpful book. We will be considering verses 1-5. Galatians 3:1-5.
Defection is an ugly word. So is the word deserter. Certainly, there is nothing more bewildering, and few things more sorrowing, than to see a Christian who defects, or deserts, the purity of the Christian faith by which he has been born again and by which he has been nurtured, to settle for something less. But strange as it may seem, many Christians do. We find that they begin well. They receive the grace of Christ extended in salvation; they live in humble faith, but soon they fall into systems of legalism, systems of ritual, systems of works. I wonder how many Christians, for example, have come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ in a very personal way and have then fallen into a very liturgical church pattern, where they merely go through formalities and functions that have only external symbolism and no internal significance. I wonder how many people begin well, but then begin to substitute things like confirmation and communion and baptism and the Mass and any other kind of particular church rite for the realities of the Christian faith.
This is an issue that comes to full force in the book of Galatians, because this is the issue that confronts the heart of the Apostle Paul. He had been used as the mouthpiece of God to introduce the Galatians to the truth of the Gospel. He was the one who preached the gospel of grace; he was the one who exposed them to the magnificence of the Christian experience (which was by faith plus nothing) in the perfect and finished work of Jesus Christ. But since that time when he had begun with them, they had defected. They had deserted the simple purity of a grace gospel and substituted a form of religion, inferior and impotent.
This is not to say they had lost their salvation. It is to say, rather, that they substituted for the fullness of their life in Christ a form of religion that had no power and no joy. Furthermore, the unsaved world would get it’s doctrine of salvation from their lives and if they live legalistic lives, the world then is to conclude that salvation comes by legalism and nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading →
I have examined and critiqued postmodernism elsewhere (see The Truth War, 2007). It should be sufficient for our purposes in this context to summarize the postmodern mind-set by describing it as dubiousness about practically everything. As we noted, the starting point for modernity was a rejection of biblical authority (setting aside belief in the supernatural as an untenable or merely irrelevant opinion). Instead, science and human reason were foolishly treated as reliable and authoritative. In the end, the disastrous failure of so many modern ideologies utterly debunked modern rationalism and delivered a deathblow to modern certitude. Postmodernism therefore subjects every idea and every authority to endless skepticism.
Modernity’s most basic assumption was that the way to achieve unshakable certainty is through a rigorous application of the scientific method. (Whatever could be tested and proved in the laboratory—or logically deduced from scientific “facts”—was deemed true; everything else was written off as mere superstition.) Moderns were convinced that a basic foundation of settled scientific knowledge would easily provide a trustworthy authority by which all truth claims could be tested. That process in turn would eventually bring about a uniform consensus regarding all the fundamental realities of life and human existence.