Legalism and Antinomianism

From Michael Horton and the White Horse Inn, dealing with antinomianism:

The danger of legalism becomes apparent not only when we confuse law and gospel in justification, but when we imagine that even our new obedience can be powered by the law rather than the gospel. The law does what only the law can do: reveal God’s moral will. In doing so, it strips us of our righteousness and makes us aware of our helplessness apart from Christ and it also directs us in grateful obedience. No one who says this can be considered an antinomian. However, it’s not a matter of finding the right “balance” between law and gospel, but of recognizing that each does different work. We need imperatives—and Paul gives them. But he only does this later in the argument, after he has grounded sanctification in the gospel.

The ultimate antidote to antinomianism is not more imperatives, but the realization that the gospel swallows the tyranny as well as the guilt of sin. It is enough to save Christians even in their failure and not only brings them peace with God in justification, but the only liberation from the cruel oppression of sin. To be united to Christ through faith is to receive everything that we need not only to challenge legalism but antinomianism as well.

The Simple Thread

Life really is held by a thread. Not something we control, but something that is completely under the control of the Holy Spirit and God’s sovereign hand, but atlas, I repeat myself.

If we have good things, those good things are from the LORD. If calamity finds us, that is from His loving hand. If we find our way through that calamity, it is because He has directed our path. If we have avoided calamity, it is because He had decreed good things for us. We can claim nothing but His glory in all things. Both in riches and poverty, good things and bad, peace or chaos, it is all from His hand for His glory and our good.

Our job in the midst of it all, is to simply remain faithful and trust Him for the outcome, especially when that outcome is full of toil and trouble. We are to trust in Him, Jesus Christ our LORD, for all things. It is by faith. We walk by faith. We trust by faith. Knowing that He will work all these things together for good, to those who love Him.

And those who love Him? They are His children by faith. They are those who know they have nothing in themselves but sin to bring to God. They are those who are trusting in Him for reconciliation with the Father and deliverance from the power of sin and death. Those who trust in Him, ultimately, trust in little else.

It’s a simple thread. Trust in Him for all things.

5 Things I’m Not Commenting On!

Well, maybe a little.

  • Bill O’Reilly: Won’t miss him, didn’t watch him.
  • Aaron Hernandez: Not a stellar character, no surprise there.
  • North Korea: Can’t we just invade, and set up a puppet government?
  • Supreme Court: Justices come and go.
  • Hank Hanegraff becoming Greek Orthodox: he wasn’t all that orthodox to begin with, so adding “Greek” to his description doesn’t help matters at all.

Thoughts?

Understanding Legalism: Its Nature and Sinfulness

In Mark’s account of Christ, Jesus takes on the sin of legalism when He attacks the Pharisees for their man-made traditions. We all have our man-made traditions that we need to examine in order to see if we should hold to them or not. I would say that most of our traditions should be booted because legalism is clearly a sin, according to Christ’s description of it.(See Mark 7:1-23).

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Millennials, You Don’t Get to Determine What God’s Church Looks Like

NOTE: The following doesn’t apply to home-schooled Millennials, some private-schooled Millennials, and Millennials who had parents with the wherewithal to teach their children that life isn’t all about them.

I’ve read the article 10 Things You Won’t Find in a Church That Attracts Millennials several times now and find it wanting in any real substance. Yes, it has a few good points, like the need for older men to mentor younger men. But this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to millennials. This boomer had a real hard time finding a mentor when I first came to Christ, yet that didn’t turn me off of the church.

I think the article’s biggest problem is the underlying premise that if the church doesn’t change to fit the “exclusive needs (wants)” of Millennials then the church is going to dry up and blow away. And it won’t be the Millennials fault. After all, through this article, and others, they make their demands clear as that stamp their feet and remain cocooned in their safe spaces. However, what they think they need is the last thing they need. Millennials don’t need a church that understands their perceived specific and unique needs. They need a church that addresses their real and eternal needs. They need a church that will clearly declare to them that their greatest need is for a Savior to deal with all their “special” and “unique” sins. Changing how things are done, or the environment of the church will not bring that about. Only the declaration of the gospel will bring that about.

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The ESV Disappoints On An Important Verse

My wife and I finally decided to purchase the English Standard Version Bible several months ago, and for the most part, we have thoroughly enjoyed the translation. We made the jump for two reasons: the ESV is easier for me to read aloud because it is a bit smoother than the New King James Version. This is important given that my calling requires me to read the Scriptures aloud to the congregation during worship. We also made the change because we know that most churches are moving in the direction of putting ESVs in their pews. When I preach and teach, I want my version to be the same as the congregation I’m preaching and teaching to for clarity sake.

However, we recently came across a translation of a verse that bothered me. We have been studying the issue of keeping the LORD’s day and one of the strongest verses showing that we are to shift from the seventh to the first day comes in Hebrews 4. There, the author of Hebrews is laboring to show that the believer has entered his rest from sin, once belief is real. For we who have believed enter that rest as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.” This was due to the Israelites unbelief. The point the writer is making is that we enter into a rest from our sin. We are not at our eternal rest, and there is yet a day appointed for us to worship Him. That would be the first day of the week.

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Clark Rebukes Shepherd’s Federal Vision

I truly appreciate the work that R. Scott Clark does on the Heidleblog. In a recent article entitle Forty Three Years of Federal Vision Theology, he shows that in all the major reformed confessions, there is a unity in the view that we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone.

Whatever formal diversity existed within the most significant Reformed voices, during the classical period of Reformed theology, we may be sure of the substantial agreement among the Reformed churches since all the Reformed confessions confess the very same doctrine of justification, i.e., the free declaration by God that sinners are regarded as righteous only for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, his condign merits imputed to believers received only through faith, trusting, resting, and receiving in Christ and in his finished work. This is the doctrine of the Reformed confessions, e.g., the Genevan Confession (1536), the Belgic Confession (1560), the Scots Confession (1560), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Canons of Dort (1619), and the Westminster Standards (1648). (Emphasis added)

Notice the very words in the definition of justification: “free declaration.” This precludes any works that we may do, which is what some of those who hold to Federal Vision are saying, at least those FVers who are following Norman Shepherd. They claim that is it not only faith that saves us, but our works as well. Shepherd, when confronted by this reality, tried to back down by saying that it is “faithfulness” or “covenant faithfulness” but that is the same thing.

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A Glimpse At How The Trendy Church is Failing in its Calling

From Why The Church Doesn’t Need More Coffee Bars at the Pulpit and The Pen.

The following is written by Gideon Knox, who lost her husband to cancer and her response to the trend that churches seem to be more interested in coffee bars, trendy pastors and lighting than the widow and fatherless children. Read the entire article here.

 

When church leaders sit around and discuss how they can reach people, I don’t think they have the widow in mind. I don’t think they have the cancer patient in mind. I don’t think they have the children who are growing up without a parent in mind. I am not paying attention to the church décor when I walk through the doors. I don’t want to smell fresh brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable. My days  are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore everything is on my plate. And when I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
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Because there are days I am running on empty and a coffee bar in the lobby isn’t filling me up. There are days when the pain is so brutal and a concert like setting is not providing healing. There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need. I need Jesus. There are days I wonder if the pain is ever going to end and a couch on the platform is not providing answers.

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 The lighting, coffee bars, relevant messages, graphics and other things are secondary and serve no assistance to me during the darkest hour of my life. This is in no way a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. However, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the center. It is a also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation. There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavor. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need and are desperate for Jesus. And they may actually be turned off by all that they consider gimmicks to get people to go to church.