A W Pink – The Law and the Saint (Part 3)

READ Part 1 here

READ Part 2 here

Arthur and Vera pink July 20, 1928 (via amazon.com)

The Positive Side
   What is the relation of the Law (the Ten Commandments) to Christians?
   In our previous chapter we pointed out how that three radically
   different answers have been returned to this question. The first, that
   sinners become saints by obeying the Law. This is Legalism pure and
   simple. It is heresy of the most dangerous kind. All who really believe
   and act on it as the ground of their acceptance by God, will perish
   eternally. Second, others say that the Law is not binding on Christians
   because it has been abolished. This is, we are fully assured, a serious
   error. It arises from a mistaken interpretation of certain passages in
   the Epistles. The inevitable tendency of such an error is toward
   Antinomianism, the "turning of the grace of God into lasciviousness"
   (Jude 4). Third, others affirm, and the writer is among the number,
   that the Ten Commandments are an expression of the unchanging character
   and will of God: that they are a moral standard of conduct which we
   disregard at our peril: that they are, and will ever be, binding upon
   every Christian.

   In our last chapter we sought to prepare the way for the present one.
   There, we dealt with the negative side; here, we shall treat of the
   positive. In the former, we sought to give the true meaning of the
   principal passages in the New Testament appealed to by those who deny
   that the Ten Commandments are now binding on Christians. In the present
   chapter, we shall endeavor to expound some of the many passages in the
   New Testament which affirm that the Ten Commandments are now binding on
   Christians. We, therefore, invite the reader's most diligent and
   prayerful attention to the scriptures cited and our comments upon them.

   1. "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am
   not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till
   heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from
   the Law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of
   these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called
   the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach
   them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.
   5:17-19). It might appear to the disciples of Christ that their Master
   intended to set aside Moses and the Prophets, and introduce an entirely
   new standard of morality. It was true indeed that He would expose the
   error of depending on the work of the Law for acceptance with God (as
   Moses and the prophets had done before Him); but it was no part of His
   design to set aside the Law itself. He was about to correct various
   corruptions, which obtained among the Jews, hence He is careful to
   preface what He has to say by cautioning them not to misconstrue His
   designs. So far from having any intention of repudiating Moses, He most
   emphatically asserts: first, that He had not come to destroy the Law;
   second, that He had come to "fulfill" it; third, that the Law is of
   perpetual obligation; fourth, that whoso breaks one of the least of the
   Law's commandments and teaches other so to do, shall suffer loss;
   fifth, that he who kept the Law and taught men to respect and obey it
   should be rewarded.

   "I am not come to destroy the Law"--the Prophets simply expounded the
   Law, and rebuked Israel for their failure to keep it, and forwarned
   them of the consequences of continued disobedience. "I am not come to
   destroy the Law." Nothing could be more explicit. The word "destroy"
   here means "to dissolve or overthrow". When, then, our Lord said that
   He had not come to destroy the Law He gave us to understand that it was
   not the purpose of His mission to repeal or annul the Ten Commandments:
   that he had not come to free men from their obligations to them. And if
   He did not "destroy" the Law, then no one had destroyed it; and if no
   one has destroyed it, then the Law still stands with all its Divine
   authority; and if the Law still abides as the unchanging expression of
   God's character and will, then every human creature is under lasting
   obligation to obey it; and if every human creature, then the Christian!

   Second, the Son of God went on to say "I am not come to destroy, but to
   fulfill". The word "fulfill" here means "to fill up, to complete".
   Christ "fulfilled" the Law in three ways: first, by rendering personal
   obedience to its precepts. God's Law was within His heart (Psa. 40:8),
   and in thought, word and deed, He perfectly met its requirements; and
   thus by His obedience He magnified the Law and made it honorable (Isa.
   42:21). Second, by suffering (at the Cross) its death-penalty on behalf
   of His people who had transgressed it. Third, by exhibiting its fulness
   and spirituality and by amplifying its contents. Thus did Christ, our
   Exemplar, "fulfill the Law."

   So far from Christ having repealed the Law, He expressly affirmed,
   "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass
   from the Law, till all be fulfilled." In these words He announces the
   perpetuity of the Law. So long as heaven and earth shall last, the Law
   will endure, and by necessary implication, the lasting obligations of
   all men to fulfill it.

   But this is not all that our Lord here said. With omniscient foresight
   He anticipated what Mr. Mead has aptly termed "The Modern Outcry
   against the Law", and proceeds to solemnly warn against it. He said,
   "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and
   shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
   heaven".

   2. "Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we
   establish the Law" (Rom. 3:31). In the previous part of the chapter the
   apostle had proven that "there is none righteous, no not one" (v. 10);
   second, he had declared "By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh
   be justified" (v. 2); then in vv. 21-26 he had set forth the Divine way
   of salvation--"through faith in Christ's blood". In v.28, he sums up
   his argument by affirming "a man is justified by faith without the
   deeds of the Law". In vv. 29, 30 he proves that this is true for Jew
   and Gentile alike. Then, in v.31, he anticipates an objection: What
   about the Law, then? This was a very pertinent question. Twice had he
   said that justification was apart from the deeds of the Law. If, then,
   the Law served no purpose in effecting the salvation of sinners, has it
   no office at all? If we are saved "through faith" is the Law useless?
   Are we to understand you to mean (Paul) that the Law has been annulled?
   Not at all, is the apostle's answer: "We establish the Law."

   What did the apostle mean when he said "we establish the Law"? He meant
   that, as saved men, Christians are under additional obligations to obey
   the Law, for they are now furnished with new and more powerful motives
   to serve God. Righteousness imputed to the believer produces in the
   justified one a kind and an extent of obedience which could not
   otherwise have been obtained. So far from rendering void or nullifying
   the authority and use of the Law, it sustains and confirms them. Our
   moral obligation to God and our neighbor has not been weakened, but
   strengthened. Below we offer one or two brief excerpts from other
   expositors.

   "Does not the doctrine of faith evacuate the Old Testament of its
   meaning, and does it not make law void, and lead to disregard of it?
   Does it not open the door to license of living? To this the apostle
   replies, that it certainly does not; but that, on the contrary, the
   Gospel puts law on a proper basis and establishes it on its foundation
   as a revelation of God's will" (Dr. Griffith-Thomas).

   "We cancel law, then, by this faith of ours? We open the door, then, to
   moral license? We abolish code and precept, then, when we ask not for
   conduct, but for faith? Away with the thought; nay, we establish law;
   we go the very way to give a new sacredness to its every command, and
   to disclose a new power for the fulfillment of them all. But how this
   is, and is to be, the later argument is to show" (Dr. Handley Moule).

   "Objection. If man is justified by faith without works, does not that
   do away with law entirely, i.e. teach lawlessness? Answer:By no means.
   It establishes the law. When a man is saved by grace, that does not
   make him lawless. There is a power within him which does not destroy,
   but it strengthens the law, and causes him to keep it, not through
   fear, but through love of God" (H. S. Miller, M.A.).

   3. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man...with the
   mind I myself serve the Law of God" (Rom 7:22-25). In this chapter the
   apostle does two things: first, he shows what is not and what is the
   Law's relation to the believer--judicially, the believer is emancipated
   from the curse or penalty of the Law (7:1-6); morally, the believer is
   under bonds to obey the Law (vv. 22, 25). Secondly, he guards against a
   false inference being drawn from what he had taught in chapter 6. In
   6:1-11 he sets forth the believer's identification with Christ as "dead
   to sin" (vv. 2, 7, etc.). Then, from v. 11 onwards, he shows the effect
   this truth should have upon the believer's walk. In chapter 7 he
   follows the same order of thought. In 7:1-6 he treats of the believer's
   identification with Christ as "dead to the law" (see vv. 4 and 6).
   Then, from v. 7 onwards he describes the experiences of the Christian.
   Thus the first half of Rom. 6 and the first half of Rom. 7 deal with
   the believer's standing, whereas the second half of each chapter treats
   of the believer's state; but with this difference: the second half of
   Rom. 6 reveals what our state ought to be, whereas the second half of
   Rom. 7 (vv. 13-25) shows what our state actually is. [6]

   The controversy which has raged over Rom. 7 is largely the fruitage of
   the Perfectionism of Wesley and his followers. That brethren, whom we
   have cause to respect, should have adopted this error in a modified
   form, only shows how widespread today is the spirit of Laodiceanism. To
   talk of "getting out of Rom. 7 into Rom. 8" is excuseless folly. Rom. 7
   and 8 both apply with undiminished force and pertinence to every
   believer on earth today. The second half of Rom. 7 describes the
   conflict of the two natures in the child of God: it simply sets forth
   in detail what is summarized in Gal. 5:17. Rom. 7:14, 15, 18, 19, 21
   are far short of the standard set before him--we mean God's standard,
   not that of the so-called "victorious life" teachers. If any Christian
   reader is ready to say that Rom. 7:19 does not describe his life, we
   say in all kindness, that he is sadly deceived. We do not mean by this
   that every Christian breaks the laws of men, or that he is an overt
   transgressor of the laws of God. But we do mean that his life is far,
   far below the level of the life our Saviour lived here on earth. We do
   mean that there is much of "the flesh" still evident in every
   Christian--not the least in those who make such loud boastings of their
   spiritual attainments. We do mean that every Christian has urgent need
   to daily pray for the forgiveness of his daily sins (Luke 11:4), for
   "in many things we all stumble" (James 3:2, R.V.).

   The second half of Rom. 7, then, is describing the state of the
   Christian, i.e. the conflict between the two natures within him. In v.
   14 the apostle declares, "We know that the Law is spiritual". How
   different is this language from the disparaging way that many now refer
   to God's Law! In v. 22 he exclaims, "I delight in the Law of God after
   the inward man". How far removed is this from the delusion that the Law
   has been abolished, and that it no longer serves any purpose for the
   Christian! The apostle Paul did not ignore the Law, still less did he
   regard it as an enemy. The new nature within him delighted in it: so,
   too, did the Psalmist, see Psa. 119:72, 97, 140. But the old nature was
   still within him too, warring against the new, and bringing him into
   captivity to the law of sin, so that he cried, "O wretched man that I
   am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (v.24)--and we
   sincerely pity every professing Christian who does not echo this cry.
   Next the apostle thanks God that he shall be delivered yet "through
   Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 25), not "by the power of the Holy Spirit"
   note! The deliverance is future, at the return of Christ, see Phil.
   3:20, etc. Finally, and mark that this comes after he had spoken of the
   promised "deliverance", he sums up his dual experience by saying, "So
   then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh
   the law of sin". Could anything be plainer? Instead of affirming that
   the Law had nothing to do with him as a Christian, nor he with it, he
   expressly declared that he served "the Law of God". This is sufficient
   for us. Let others refuse to "serve" the Law of God at their peril.

   4. "For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the
   flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for
   sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the Law
   might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the
   spirit" (Rom. 8:3, 4). This throws light on Rom. 3:31, showing us, in
   part, how "the Law is established". The reference here is to the new
   nature. The believer now has a heart that loves God, and therefore does
   it "delight in the Law of God". And it is ever at the heart that God
   looks, though, of course, He takes note of our actions too. But in
   heart the believer "fulfills" the holy requirements of God's Law,
   inasmuch as his innermost desire is to serve, please, and glorify the
   Law-giver. The righteous requirements of the Law are "fulfilled" in us
   because we now obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17).

   5. "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law. For this, Thou shalt
not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou
shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any
other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his
neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law" (Rom. 13:8-10).
   Here again, the apostle, so far from lending the slightest
   encouragement to the strange delusion that the Ten Commandments have
   become obsolete to Christians, actually quotes five of them, and then
   declares, "Love is the fulfilling of the Law". Love is not a
   substitution for Law-obedience, but it is that which prompts the
   believer to render obedience to it.Note carefully, it is not "love is
   the abrogating of the Law", but "love is the fulfilling of the Law".
   "The whole Law is grounded on love to God and love to man. This cannot
   be violated without the breach of Law; and if there is love, it will
   influence us to the observance of all God's commandments" (Haldane).
   Love is the fulfilling of the Law because love is what the Law demands.
   The prohibitions of the Law are not unreasonable restraints on
   Christian liberty, but the just and wise requirements of love. We may
   add that the above is another passage which serves to explain Rom.
   3:31, for it supplies a practical exemplification of the way in which
   the Gospel establishes the Law as the expression of the Divine will,
   which love alone can fulfill.



   6. "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant
unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a
Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law; as
under the Law, that i might gain them that are under the Law; to them
that are without Law, as without Law, (being not without Law to God,
but under the Law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without
Law" (1 Cor. 9:19-22). The central thought of this passage is how the
   apostle forewent his Christian liberty for the sake of the Gospel.
   Though "free" from all, he nevertheless, made himself "the servant" of
   all. To the unconverted Jews he "became a Jew;" Acts 16:3 supplies an
   illustration. To those who deemed themselves to be yet under the
   ceremonial law, he acted accordingly: Acts 21:26 supplies an example of
   this. To them without Law: that is, Gentiles without the ceremonial
   law, he abstained from the use of all ceremonies as they did: cf. Gal.
   2:3. Yet, he did not act as "without Law to God", but instead, as
   "under the Law to Christ"; that is, as still under the moral Law of
   God. He never counted himself free from that, nor would he do anything
   contrary to the eternal Law of righteousness. To be "under Law to God",
   is, without question, to be under the God. Therefore, to be under the
   Law of Christ, is to be under the Law of God, for the Law was not
   abrogated but reinforced by Christ. This text, then, gives a plain and
   decisive answer to the question, How the believer is under the Law of
   God, namely, as he is "under the Law to Christ", belonging to Christ,
   as he does, by redemption.

   7. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not
liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love
thy neighbor as thyself" (Gal. 5:13, 14). Here the apostle first
   reminds the Galatian saints (and us) that they had been called unto
   "liberty", i.e., from the curse of the moral Law (3:13). Second, he
   defines the bounds of that liberty, and shows that it must not
   deteriorate to fleshly license, but that it is bounded by the
   requirements of the unchanging moral Law of God, which requires that we
   love our neighbor as ourselves. Third, he repeats here, what he had
   said in Rom. 13:8-10, namely, that love is the fulfilling of the Law.
   The new commandment of love to our brethren is comprehended in the old
   commandment of love to our neighbor, hence the former is enforced by an
   appeal to the latter.

   "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty
   for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Gal.
   5:13). We quote here part of the late Dr. George Bishop's comments on
   this verse: "The apostle here emphasizes a danger. The believer before
   believing, relied upon his works to save him. After believing, seeing
   he is in no way saved by his works, he is in danger of despising good
   works and minifying their value. At first he was an Arminian living by
   law; now he is in danger of becoming an Antinomian and flinging away
   the law altogether."

   "But the law is holy and the commandment holy, and just, and good. It
   is God's standard--the eternal Norm. Fulfilled by Christ for us, it
   still remains the swerveless and unerring rule of righteousness. We are
   without the law for salvation, but not without the law for obedience.
   Angels are under the law doing God's commandments, hearkening to the
   voice of His word' (Psa. 103:20). The law then is immutable--its reign
   universal and without exception. The law! It is the transcript of the
   Divine perfection: the standard of eternal justice: the joy and rapture
   of all holy beings. The law! We are above it for salvation, but under
   it, or rather in it and it in us, as a principle of holiness" (Grace in
   Galatians).

   8. "Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour
thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth"
(Eph. 6:1-3). Once more we have a direct quotation from the tables of
   stone as the regulator of the Christian conscience. First, the apostle
   bids children obey their parents in the Lord. Second, he enforces this
   by an appeal to the fifth commandment in the Decalogue. What a proof
   this is that the Christian is under the Law (for the apostle is writing
   to Christians), under it "to Christ". Third, not only does the apostle
   here quote the fifth commandment, but he reminds us that there is a
   promise annexed to it, a promise concerning the prolongation of earthly
   life. How this refutes those who declare that our blessings are all
   spiritual and heavenly )Eph. 1:3). Let the ones who are constantly
   criticizing those who press on the children of God the scriptures which
   have to do with our earthly walk, and who term this a "coming down from
   our position in the heavenlies" weigh carefully Eph. 6:2, 3 and also 1
   Tim. 4:8--"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is
   profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and
   of that which is to come"; and let them also study 1 Pet. 3:10. In the
   administration of His government, God acts upon immutable principles.
   [7]

   9. "But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully" (1 Tim.
1:8). The Law is used unlawfully, when sinners rest on their imperfect
   obedience to it as the ground of their acceptance by God. So, too,
   believers use it unlawfully, when they obey its precepts out of servile
   fear. But used lawfully, the Law is good. This could never have been
   said if the Law is an enemy to be shunned. Nor could it have been said
   if it has been repealed for the Christian. In that case, the apostle
   would have said, "The Law is not binding upon us". But he did not so
   say. Instead, he declared "The Law if good". He said more than that, he
   affirmed, "We know that the Law is good". It is not a debateable point,
   rather is it one that has been Divinely settled for us. But the Law is
   only "good" if a man (Greek, any one) use it lawfully. To use the Law
   lawfully is to regard it as the unchanging expression of the Will of
   God, and therefore to "delight" in it. To use the Law lawfully is to
   receive it as the corrector of our conduct. To use the Law lawfully is
   to "fulfill" it in love.

   10. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah...this is
the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those
days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write
them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to
Me a people" (Heb. 8:8, 10). Let it be carefully noted that this
   passage unmistakably demonstrates two things: first, it proves
   conclusively that the Law has not been "abolished"! Second, it proves
   that the Law does have a use and value for those that are saved, for it
   is saved Israel that is here in view! Nor is there any possible room
   for doubt as to whether or not this applies to Gentile Christians now.

   The passage just quoted refers to "the new covenant". Is the new
   covenant restricted to Israel? Emphatically no. Did not our Saviour say
   at the Holy Supper, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is
   poured out for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28, R.V.)? Was
   Christ's blood of the new covenant limited to Israel? Certainly not.
   Note how the apostle quotes our Lord's words when writing to the
   Corinthians, see 1 Cor. 11:25. So, too, in 2 Cor. 3:6 the apostle Paul
   declares that God has made us (not is going to make us) "ministers of
   the new covenant". This is proof positive that Christians are under the
   new covenant. The new covenant is made with all that Christ died for,
   and therefore Heb. 8:8-10 assures us that God puts His laws into the
   minds and writes them upon the hearts of every one of His redeemed.

   But so anxious are some to grasp at everything which they imagine
   favors their contention that in no sense are believers under the Law,
   this passage is sometimes appealed to in support. It is argued that
   since God has now (by regeneration) written the Law on the believer's
   heart, He no longer needs any outward commandments to rule and direct
   him. Inward principle, it is said, will now move him spontaneously, so
   that all need for external law is removed. This error was so ably
   exposed fifty years ago by Dr. Martin, we transcribe a part of his
   refutation:

     How was it with our first parents? If ever outward law, categorical
     and imperative, might have been dispensed with, it might in Adam's
     case. In all the compass of his nature, there was nothing adverse to
     the law of God. He was a law unto himself. He was the moral law unto
     himself; loving God with all his heart, and his neighbour as
     himself, in all things content, in nothing coveting. Was imperative,
     authoritative, sovereign commandment therefore utterly unnecessary?
     Did God see it to be needless to say to him, Thou shalt, or, Thou
     shalt not? It was the very thing that infinite wisdom saw he needed.
     And therefore did He give commandment--Thou shalt not eat of it'.

     How was it with the last Adam? All God's law was in His heart
     operating there, an inward principle of grace; He surely, if any,
     might have dispensed with strict, imperative, authoritative law and
     commandment. I delight to do Thy will, O God; Thy law also is within
     My heart'. Was no commandment, therefore, laid upon--no
     obedience-statute ordained--unto Him? Or did He complain if there
     was? Nay; I hear Him specially rejoicing in it. Every word He
     uttered, every work He did, was by commandment: My Father which sent
     me, He gave Me commandment what I should say and what I should do;
     as He gave me commandment therefore, so I speak'.

     And shall His members, though the regenerating Spirit dwells in
     them, claim an exemption from what the Son was not exempt? Shall
     believers, because the Spirit puts the law into their hearts, claim
     a right to act merely at the dictate of inward gracious principle,
     untrammeled, uncontrolled by outward peremptory statute? I appeal to
     Paul in the seventh chapter of the Romans, where he says: The law is
     holy', and adds, as if to show that it was no inward actuating law
     of the heart, but God's outward commanding law to the will: the law
     is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good'. And I
     appeal to the sweet singer of Israel, as I find him in the 119th
     Psalm, which is throughout the breathing of a heart in which the law
     of God is written, owning himself with joy as under peremptory
     external law: Thou hast commanded us to keep Thy precepts
     diligently'.

   11. "If ye fulfill the royal Law according to the scripture, Thou shalt
love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well" (James 2:8). The immediate
   purpose of the apostle was to correct an evil--common in all climes and
   ages--of which his brethren were guilty. They had paid deference to the
   wealthy, and shown them greater respect than the poor who attended
   their assembly (see preceding verses). They had, in fact, "despised the
   poor" (v.6). The result was that the worthy name of Christ had been
   "blasphemed" (v.7). Now it is striking to observe the method followed
   and the ground of appeal made by the apostle James in correcting this
   evil.

   First, he says, "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the
   scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if
   ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the Law
   as transgressors" (vv. 8, 9). He shows that in despising the poor they
   had transgressed the Law, for the Law says, "Thou shalt love thy
   neighbour as thyself". Here then, if proof positive that the Law was
   binding upon those to whom James wrote, for it is impossible for one
   who is in every sense "dead to the Law" to be a "transgressor" of it.
   And here, it is probable that some will raise the quibble that the
   Epistle of James is Jewish. True, the Epistle is addressed to the
   twelve tribes scattered abroad. Yet it cannot be gainsaid that the
   apostle was writing to men of faith (1:3); men who had been
   regenerated--"begotten" (1:18); men who were called by the worthy name
   of Christ (2:7), and therefore Christians. And it is to them the
   apostle here appeals to the Law!--another conclusive proof that the Law
   has not been abolished.

   The apostle here terms the Law, "the royal Law". This was to empathize
   its authority, and to remind his regenerated brethren that the
   slightest deflection from it was rebellion. The royal Law also calls
   attention to the supreme dignity of its Author. This royal Law, we
   learn, is transcribed in the Scriptures--the reference here was, of
   course, to the Old Testament Scriptures.

   Next, the apostle says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and
   yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not
   commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no
   adultery, yet if thou kill, thou are become a transgressor of the Law"
   (vv. 10, 11). His purpose is evident. He presses on those to whom he
   writes that, he who fails to love his neighbour is just as much and
   just as truly a transgressor of the Law as the man who is guilty of
   adultery or murder, for he has rebelled against the authority of the
   One who gave the whole Law. In this quotation of the 6th and 7th
   commandments all doubt is removed as to what "Law" is in view in this
   passage.

   Finally, the apostle says, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall
   be judged by the Law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without
   mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment"
   (vv. 12, 13). This is solemn and urgently needs pressing upon the
   Lord's people today: Christians are going to be "judged by the Law"!
   The Law is God's unchanging standard of conduct for all; and all alike,
   saints and sinners, are going to be weighed in its balances; not of
   course, in order to determine their eternal destiny, but to settle the
   apportionment of reward and punishment. It should be obvious to all
   that the very word "reward" implies obedience to the Law! Let it be
   repeated, though, that this judgment for Christians has nothing
   whatever to do with their salvation. Instead, it is to determine the
   measure of reward which they shall enjoy in Heaven. Should any object
   against the idea of any future judgment (not punishment but judgment)
   for Christians, we would ask them to carefully ponder 1 Cor. 11:31, 32:
   2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:30--in each case the Greek word is the same as here
   in James 2:12.

   It should be noted that the apostle here terms the Law by which we
   shall be judged "the Law of liberty". It is, of course, the same as
   "the royal Law" in v. 8. But why term it the Law of liberty? Because
   such it is to the Christian. He obeys it (or should do) not from fear,
   but out of love. The only true "liberty" lies in complete subjection to
   God. There was, too, a peculiar propriety in the apostle James here
   styling the Law of God "the Law of liberty". His brethren had been
   guilty of "respecting persons", showing undue deference to the rich;
   and this was indeed servility of the worst kind. But to "love our
   neighbour" will free us from this.

   12. Other passages in the New Testament which show more directly the
bearing of the Law on believers might be quoted, but we close, by
calling attention to 1 John 2:6: "He that saith he abideth in Him ought
himself also so to walk, even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). This is very
   simple, and yet deeply important. The believer is here exhorted to
   regulate his walk by that of the walk of Christ. How did He walk? We
   answer, in perfect obedience to the Law of God. Gal. 4:4 tells us, "God
   sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law." Psa. 40:8
   declares that God's Law was in His heart. Everything recorded about the
   Saviour in the four Gospels evidences His complete subjection to the
   Law. If, then, the Christian desires to honor and please God, if he
   would walk as Christ walked, then must he regulate his conduct by and
   render obedience to the Ten Commandments. Not that we would for a
   moment insist that the Christian has nothing more than the Ten
   Commandments by which to regulate his conduct. No; Christ came to
   "fulfill" the Law, and as we have intimated, one thing this means is
   that, He has brought out the fulness of its contents, He has brought to
   light its exceeding spirituality, He has shown us (both directly and
   through His apostles) its manifold application. But whatever
   amplification the Law has received in the New Testament, nothing has
   been given by God which in any wise conflicts with what he first
   imprinted on man's moral nature, and afterwards wrote with His own
   finger at Sinai, nothing that in the slightest modifies its authority
   or our obligation to render obedience to it.

   May the Holy Spirit so enlighten our sin-darkened understandings and so
   draw out our hearts unto God, that we shall truthfully say, "The Law of
   Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver...O how
   love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119:72-97).
     __________________________________________________________________

   [6] Vv. 8-12 are more or less in the nature of a parenthesis.   [7] That some obedient children are short-lived no more belies the Word
   of God than that some diligent men are poor, yet Prov. 10:4 says, "The
   hand of the diligent maketh rich:" The truth is, that these promises
   reveal the general purpose of God, but He always reserves to Himself
   the sovereign right to make whom He pleases exceptions to the general
   rule.
 

Related articles

Articole in Limba Romana

 

A W Pink – The Law and the Saint (Part 1)

This is part 1 of 3 from A. W. Pink’s book ‘The Law and the Saint’ which is now in the public domain. In this first part Pink contrasts OT and NT law:
The Old Testament saints and the New Testament
saints are both saved in the same way, and that is, by the grace of
God through Jesus Christ alone.
.
„Of course the people did not keep the law. It only brought sin to
light and proved that righteousness could not come that way, as Paul
points out in the Epistle to the Romans. It made all the more
evident that there was a need for the work of Christ. But Christ
came not to put the law aside and introduce another plan. I came not
to destroy’, He declared, but to fulfill’; not to dissolve the
obligations of the law and release us from them, but to substantiate
the law and make good all that it required. In the Sermon on the
Mount He expounded and expanded the law, in all its depth and
breadth, and in all its searching sweep. This Sermon spoke to His
disciples; it was His law for them. It was not intended for another
age and another people; it set forth the kind of life He expected
His own people to live in the present age.

Arthur and Vera pink July 20, 1928 (via amazon.com)

   
                                Introduction

   It has been said that every unregenerate sinner has the heart of a
   Pharisee. This is true; and it is equally true that every unregenerate
   sinner has the heart of an Antinomian. This is the character which is
   expressly given to the carnal mind: it is "enmity against God"; and the
   proof of this is, that "it is not subject to the law of God, neither
   indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). Should we be surprised, then, if we find the
   underlying principles of Phariseeism and Antinomianism uniting in the
   same mind? Surely not. There is no more real opposition between these
   apparently opposing principles, than there is between enmity and pride.
   Many a slothful servant has hated his master and his service, and yet
   had he pride and presumption enough to demand his wages. Phariseeism
   and Antinomianism unite, like Herod and Pilate did, against the Truth.
.
   The term Antinomian signifies one who is against the Law, hence, when
   we declare that ours is an age of lawlessness, it is only another way
   of saying that it is an age characterized by Antinomianism. There is
   little need for us to pause and offer proof that this is an age of
   lawlessness. In every sphere of life the sad fact confronts us. In the
   well-nigh total absence of any real discipline in the majority of the
   churches, we see the principle exemplified. Not more than two
   generations ago, thousands, tens of thousands, of the loose-living
   members whose names are now retained on the membership rolls, would
   have been dis-fellowshipped. It is the same in the great majority of
   our homes. With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in
   subjection to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, 24); and as for obeying them
   (1 Pet. 3:1, 2, 5, 6), why, the majority of women demand that such a
   hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony. So it is with the
   children--how could it be otherwise? Obedience to parents is almost
   entirely a thing of the past. And what of conditions in the world? The
   abounding marital unfaithfulness, Sunday trading, banditry, lynchings,
   strikes, and a dozen other things that might be mentioned, all bear
   witness to the frightful wave of lawlessness which is flowing over the
   country.
.
   What, we may well inquire, is the cause of the lawlessness which now so
   widely obtains? For every effect there is a cause, and the character of
   the effect usually intimates the nature of the cause. We are assured
   that the present wide-spread contempt for human law is the inevitable
   outgrowth of disrespect for Divine Law. Where there is no fear of God,
   we must not expect there will be much fear of man. And why is it that
   there is so much disrespect for Divine Law? This, in turn, is but the
   effect of an antecedent cause. Nor is this hard to find. Do not the
   utterances of Christian teachers during the last twenty-five years go
   far to explain the situation which now confronts us?
.
   History has repeated itself. Of old, God complained of Ephraim, "I have
   written to him the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a
   strange thing" (Hosea 8:12). Observe how God speaks of His Law: "The
   great things of My Law"! They are not precepts of little moment, but to
   be lightly esteemed, and slighted; but are of great authority,
   importance, and value. But, as then, so during the last few years--they
   have been "counted as a strange thing". Christian teachers have vied
   with each other in denouncing the Law as a "yoke of bondage", "a
   grievous burden", "a remorseless enemy". They have declared in trumpet
   tones that Christians should regard the Law as "a strange thing": that
   it was never designed for them: that it was given to Israel, and then
   made an end of at the Cross of Christ. They have warned God's people to
   have nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. They have denounced as
   "Legalists" Christians of the past, who, like Paul, "served the Law"
   (Rom. 7:25). They have affirmed that Grace rules the Law out of the
   Christian's life as absolutely as it did out of his salvation. They
   have held up to ridicule those who contended for a Christian Sabbath,
   and have classed them with Seventh-Day Adventists. Having sown the
   wind, is it any wonder that we are now reaping the whirlwind?
.
   The characters of the cause determinates the character of the effect.
   Whatsoever a man sowth that (the same in kind) shall he also reap. Unto
   them who of old regarded the great things of God's Law as a strange
   thing, God declared, "Because Ephraim hath made many alters to sin,
   alters shall be unto him to sin" (Hosea 8:11). And because many of our
   Christian leaders have publicly repudiated Divine Law, God has visited
   us with a wave of lawlessness in our churches, homes, and social life.
   "Be not deceived; God is not mocked"!! Nor have we any hope of stemming
   the onrushing tide, or of causing Christian leaders to change their
   position. Having committed themselves publicly, the examples of past
   history warn us that pride will keep them from making the humbling
   confession that they have erred. But we have a hope that some who have
   been under the influence of twentieth century Antinomianism will have
   sufficient spiritual discernment to recognize the truth when it is
   presented to their notice; and it is for them we now write.
   In the January 1923 issue of a contemporary, appeared the second
   article from the pen of Dr. McNichol, Principal of Toronto Bible
   School, under the caption of "Overcoming the Dispensations". The
   purpose of these articles is to warn God's children against the perils
   which lie "in the way of much of the positive pre-millennial teaching
   of the day". Quoting, Dr. McNicol says:
.
     "1. There is danger when the Law is set against Grace. No scheme of
     prophetic interpretation can be safe which is obliged to represent
     the dispensations of Law and Grace as opposing systems, each
     excluding the other and contrary to it. If this were the case, it
     would mean that God had taken opposing and contradictory attitudes
     towards men in these two different ages. In the last analysis this
     representation of the relation of law and grace affects the
     character of God, as everything which perverts the Scriptures,
     disturbing thereby the mirror of His mind, ultimately does.
.
     "So far from being opposing systems, law and grace as revealed in
     Scripture are parts of one harmonious and progressive plan. The
     present dispensation is spoken of as the age of grace, not because
     grace belongs to it exclusively, but because in it grace has been
     fully manifested. When John declared that the law was given by
     Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ', he was contrasting
     law and grace, not as two contrary and irreconcilable systems, but
     as two related parts of one system. The law was the shadow, Christ
     was the substance. The law was the pattern, Christ was the reality.
     The grace which had been behind the law came to light through Jesus
     Christ so that it could be realized. As a matter of fact, grace had
     been in operation from the beginning. It began in Eden with the
     first promise of redemption immediately after the fall. All
     redemption is of grace; there can be no salvation without it, and
     even the law itself proceeds on the basis of grace.
.
     "The law was given to Israel not that they might be redeemed, but
     because they had been redeemed. The nation had been brought out of
     Egypt by the power of God under the blood of the slain lamb, itself
     the symbol and token of His grace. The law was added at Sinai as the
     necessary standard of life for a ransomed people, a people who now
     belonged to the Lord. It began with a declaration of their
     redemption; I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land
     of Egypt, out of the house of bondage' (Ex. 20:2). It rested on the
     basis of grace, and it embodied the principle that redemption
     implied a conformity to God's moral order. In other words, the very
     grace that redeemed Israel carried with it the necessity of
     revealing the law to Israel. The law was given that they might walk
     worthy of the relation in which they now stood to God, worthy of a
     salvation which was already theirs. The covenant of the law did not
     supersede the covenant of promise, but set forth the kind of life
     which those who were redeemed by the covenant of promise were
     expected to live.
.
     "The law was not a covenant of works in the sense that Israel's
     salvation depended upon obedience to it. The devout Israelite was
     saved by faith in the promise of God, which was now embodied in the
     tabernacle services. He looked forward through the sacrifices to a
     salvation which they foreshadowed, and by faith accepted it, as we
     look back to the Cross and by faith accept the salvation which has
     been accomplished. The Old Testament saints and the New Testament
     saints are both saved in the same way, and that is, by the grace of
     God through Jesus Christ alone.
.
     "Of course the people did not keep the law. It only brought sin to
     light and proved that righteousness could not come that way, as Paul
     points out in the Epistle to the Romans. It made all the more
     evident that there was a need for the work of Christ. But Christ
     came not to put the law aside and introduce another plan. I came not
     to destroy', He declared, but to fulfill'; not to dissolve the
     obligations of the law and release us from them, but to substantiate
     the law and make good all that it required. In the Sermon on the
     Mount He expounded and expanded the law, in all its depth and
     breadth, and in all its searching sweep. This Sermon spoke to His
     disciples; it was His law for them. It was not intended for another
     age and another people; it set forth the kind of life He expected
     His own people to live in the present age.
                                     Photo - Tissot's Sermon on the Mount
.
     "Of course we cannot fulfill the law of the Sermon on the Mount                                    
     as an outward standard of life. Our Lord did not leave it at 
     that. He was Himself going to make it possible for His 
     disciples to fulfill it, but He could not yet tell them how.      When He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, and His 
     Holy Spirit--the same Spirit which had fulfilled and                
     exemplified that law completely in His own life--came flowing 
     back into the lives of His disciples, then they
     had to keep it. The law was written on their hearts. Their 
     lives were conformed to the law, not by slavish obedience to an     
     outward standard, but by the free constraint of an inward 
     spirit. The ordinance of the law was fulfilled in them when 
     they walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.
.
     "It is this very feature of grace which seems to make it an entirely
     different and separate system from the law, for it did not exist in
     the Old Testament dispensation. It could not be realized before the
     redemptive work of Christ was done and the Holy Spirit came. The
     Israelites occupied a different position toward the law from that
     occupied by the Christian now. The law demanded an obedience which
     the natural heart could not give. In its practical working,
     therefore, the law necessarily came to stand over man as a creditor,
     with claims of justice which had not been satisfied. These claims
     Christ met on the Cross and put out of the way. More than that, by
     virtue of our union with Him in His death and resurrection, He has
     brought us out of the sphere where the law as an outward authority
     demands obedience of the natural man, into the sphere where the law
     is written upon the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has
     created us a new man' whose nature it is to fulfill the law by an
     inward power and principle. This is what Paul meant when he said, I
     through the law died unto the law that I might live unto God' (Gal.
     2:19), and when he wrote to the Romans, Sin shall not have dominion
     over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace' (6:14).
.
     "This new revelation to the law has been created by the grace of God
     through the work of Jesus Christ. But the law still remains. It is
     the reflex of His own character and the revelation of His moral
     order. He cannot set it aside, for then He would deny Himself. The
     wonder and glory of grace consists in this, that it came in, not to
     oppose the law and substitute another plan, but to meet and satisfy
     all its claims and provide a way of fulfilling all its obligations.
     It has pleased the Lord by His grace to magnify the law and make it
     honorable."
.
   With the above remarks we are in hearty accord. [1] It is a superficial
   and erroneous conclusion that supposes the Old and New Testaments are
   antagonistic. The Old Testament is full of grace: the New Testament if
   full of Law. The revelation of the New Testament to the Old is like
   that of the oak tree to the acorn. It has been often said, and said
   truly, "The New is in the Old contained, the Old is by the New
   explained"! And surely this must be so. The Bible as a whole, and in
   its parts, is not merely for Israel or the Church, but is a written
   revelation from God to and for the whole human race. It is indeed sad
   to see how little this elementary truth is grasped today and what
   confusion prevails.
.
   Even the late Mr. F. W. Grant in his notes on Exodus 19 and 20 was so
   inconsistent with himself as to say, First, "It is plain that
   redemption, as bringing the soul to God, sets up His throne within it,
   and obedience is the only liberty. It is plain too, that there is a
   righteousness of the law' which the law itself gives no power to
   fulfill, but which is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but
   after the spirit' (Rom. 8:4). What is merely dispensational passes, but
   not that which is the expression of God's character and required by it.
   Nothing of that can pass ... grace still must affirm this, therefore,
   not set it (obedience) aside; but it does what law does not--it
   provides for the accomplishment of the condition. First of all, the
   obedience of Another, who owed none, has glorified God infinitely with
   regard to those who owed but did not pay. Secondly,--for this even
   could not release (nor could there be blessing in release) from the
   personal obligation,--grace apprehended in the heart brings back the
   heart to God, and the heart brought back in love serves of necessity"
   (italics ours).
.
   With the above quoted words from The Numerical Bible we are in entire
   accord, and only wish they might be echoed by Mr. Grant's followers.
   But second, and most inconsistently, and erroneously, Mr. Grant says:
   "In the wisdom of God, that same law, whose principle was do and live',
   could yet be the type of the obedience of faith in those who are
   subjects of a spiritual redemption, the principle of which is live and
   do'. Let us remember, however, that law in itself retains none the less
   its character as opposed to grace, and that as a type it does not
   represent law any longer: we are not, as Christians in any sense under
   the law, but under grace" (italics his). This is a mistake, the more
   serious because made by one whose writings now constitute in certain
   circles the test of orthodoxy in the interpreting of God's Word.
.
   What has been said above reveals the need for a serious and careful
   examination of the teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the Law. But
   to what do we refer when we speak of "The Law"? This is a term which
   needs to be carefully defined. In the New Testament there are three
   expressions used, concerning which there has been not a little
   confusion. First, there is "the Law of God" (Rom. 7:22, 25, etc.).
   Second, there is "the Law of Moses" (John 7:23; Acts 13:39, 15:5,
   etc.). Third, there is "the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). Now these three
   expressions are by no means synonymous, and it is not until we learn to
   distinguish between them, that we can hope to arrive at any clear
   understanding of our subject.
.
   The "Law of God" expresses the mind of the Creator, and is binding upon
   all rational creatures. It is God's unchanging moral standard for
   regulating the conduct of all men. In some places "the Law of God" may
   refer to the whole revealed will of God, but in the majority it has
   reference to the Ten Commandments; and it is in this restricted sense
   we use the term. This Law was impressed on man's moral nature from the
   beginning, and though now fallen, he still shows the work of it written
   in his heart. This law has never been repealed, and in the very nature
   of things, cannot be. For God to abrogate the moral Law would be to
   plunge the whole universe into anarchy. Obedience to the Law of God is
   man's first duty. That is why the first complaint that Jehovah made
   against Israel after they left Egypt was, "How long refuse ye to keep
   My commandments and My laws" (Ex. 16:27). That is why the first
   statutes God gave to Israel were the Ten Commandments, i.e. the moral
   Law. That is why in the first discourse of Christ recorded in the New
   Testament He declared, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or
   the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt 5:17),
   and then proceeded to expound and enforce the moral Law. And that is
   why in the first of the Epistles, the Holy Spirit has taught us at
   length the relation of the Law to sinners and saints, in connection
   with salvation and the subsequent walk of the saved: the word "law"
   occurs in Romans no less than seventy-five times, though, of course,
   not every reference is to the Law of God. And that is why sinners (Rom.
   3:19) and saints (Jas. 2:12) shall be judged by this Law.
.
   The "Law of Moses" is the entire system of legislation, judicial and
   ceremonial, which Jehovah gave to Israel during the time they were in
   the wilderness. The Law of Moses, as such, is binding upon none but
   Israelites. This Law has not been repealed. That the Law of Moses is
   not binding on Gentiles is clear from Acts 15.
.
   The "Law of Christ" is God's moral Law, but in the hands of the
   Mediator. It is the Law which Christ Himself was "made under" (Gal.
   4:4). It is the Law which was "in His heart" (Psa. 40:8). It is the Law
   which He came to "fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). The "Law of God" is now termed
   "the Law of Christ" as it relates to Christians. As creatures we are
   under bonds to "serve the Law of God" (Rom. 7:25). As redeemed sinners
   we are " the bondslaves of Christ" (Eph. 6:6), and as such we are under
   bonds to "serve the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:24). The relation between
   these two appellations, "the law of God" and "the Law of Christ" is
   clearly intimated in 1 Cor. 9:21, where the apostle states, that "he
   was not without Law to God," for he was "under the Law of Christ". The
   meaning of this is very simple. As a human creature, the apostle was
   still under obligation to obey the moral Law of God his Creator; but as
   a saved man he now belonged to Christ, the Mediator, by redemption.
   Christ had purchased him: he was His, therefore, he was "under the Law
   of Christ". The "Law of Christ", then, is just the moral Law of God now
   in the hands of the Mediator and Redeemer--cf Ex. 34:1 and what
   follows!
.
   Should any object against our definition of the distinction drawn
   between God's moral Law and "the Law of Moses" we request them to
   attend closely to what follows. God took special pains to show us the
   clear line of demarcation which He has Himself drawn between the two.
   The moral Law became incorporated in the Mosaic Law, [2] yet was it
   sharply distinguished from it. The proof of this is as follows: -
.
   In the first place, let the reader note carefully the words with which
   Ex. 20 opens: "And God spake all these words." Observe it is not "The
   Lord spake all these words", but "God spake". This is the more
   noticeable because in the very next verse He says, "I am the Lord thy
   God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt", etc. Now the
   Divine titles are not used loosely, nor are they employed alternately
   for the purpose of variation. Each one possesses a definite and
   distinct signification. "God" is the creatorial title (see Gen. 1:1).
   "Lord" is God in covenant relationship, that is why it is "Lord God"
   all through Gen. 2. In Gen. 1 it is God in connection with His
   creatures. In Gen. 2 it is the Lord God in connection with Adam, with
   whom He had entered into a covenant--see Hos. 6:7, margin. The fact,
   then, that Ex. 20 opens with "And God spake all these words", etc.
   prove conclusively that the Ten Commandments were not and are not
   designed solely for Israel (the covenant people), but for all mankind.
   The use of the title "God" in Ex. 20:1 is the more forceful because in
   vv. 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12 "the Lord" is named, and named there because
   Israel is being addressed.
.
   In the second place, the Ten Commandments, and they alone, of all the
   laws Jehovah gave to Israel, were promulgated by the finger of God,
   amid the most solemn manifestations and tokens of the Divine presence
   and majesty.
.
   In the third place, the Ten Commandments, and they alone, of all
   Jehovah's statutes to Israel, were written directly by the finger of
   God, written upon tables of stone; and written thus to denote their
   lasting and imperishable nature.
.
   In the fourth place, the Ten Commandments were further distinguished
   from all those laws which had merely a local application to Israel, by
   the fact that they alone were laid up in the ark. A tabernacle was
   prepared by the special direction of God, and within it an ark was
   placed, in which the two tables of the Law were deposited. The ark,
   formed of the most durable wood, was overlaid with gold, within and
   without. Over it was placed the mercy-seat, which became the throne of
   Jehovah in the midst of His people. Not until the tabernacle had been
   erected, and the Law placed in the ark, did Jehovah take up His abode
   in Israel's midst. Thus did the Lord signify to Israel that the moral
   Law was the basis of all His governmental dealings with them.                                                  
   Thus it is clear beyond any room for doubt that the Ten Commandments,
   the moral Law of God, were sharply distinguished from "the Law of
   Moses." The "Law of Moses," excepting the moral Law incorporated
   therein, was binding on none but Israelites, or Gentile proselytes. But
   the moral Law of God, unlike the Mosaic, is binding on all men. Once
   this distinction is perceived, many minor difficulties are cleared up.
   For example: someone says, If we are to keep the Sabbath day holy, as
   Israel did, why must we not observe the other Sabbaths--the Sabbatic
   year, for instance? The answer is, Because the moral Law alone is
   binding on Gentiles and Christians. Why, it may be asked, does not the
   death penalty attached to the desecration of the Sabbath day (Ex.
   31:14, etc.) still obtain? The answer is, Because though that was a
   part of the Mosaic Law, it was not a part of the moral Law of God, i.e.
   it was not inscribed on the tables of stone; therefore it concerned
   none but Israelites.

Articole in Limba Romana

 

Spurgeon on Human Responsibility

„If he be lost, damnation is all of man, but, if he be saved, still salvation is all of God”

from a sermon entitled „Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace.

This is the third of four reasons Iain Murray in his book ‘Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism recounts Spurgeon’s debate with the Hyper-Calvinists of his time. While doing so, Spurgeon lays down the foundation for a doctrine that helps the reader grasp a better understanding of the most debated texts of Evangelical Christians (in the Arminian v. Calvinism debate).

P.80

The two convictions so far stated -that gospel invitations are to be addressed to al, and that the warrant to believe lies in the commands and promises of Scripture lead us to the heart of the dispute- It concerns the place of man’s responsibility, or his free agency. Free agency is not to be confused with „free-will”. Since the fall, men have not lost their responsibility but they have lost their ability, the will, to obey God. Hyper-Calvinism argues that sinners cannot be required to do what they are not able to do, namely to believe in Christ for their salvation. The ability to believe belongs only to the elect, and that at the time determined by the Spirit of God. So for a preacher to call all his hearers to immediate repentance and faith is do deny both human depravity and the sovereignty of grace.

Spurgeon did not reply to this argument, as many have done, by weakening the biblical teaching on human depravity and inability. His sermons prove the truth of his words,”We shall proclaim the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, without toning it down, and electing love without stuttering over it.” He asserted, as strongly as it has ever been asserted, that the will of God is omnipotent both in the provision and in the application of every part of salvation. But his response to the Hyper-Calvinist argument was to assert another equally biblical truth, namely that man is wholly responsible for his own sin. God is not its author. Those who hear the Gospel and reject the Saviour will not be able to plead that sovereignty prevented them from excercising the obedience of faith. None will be able to claim that God excluded them. No, it is on account of sin alone, including the sin of unbelief, that unrepentant sinners will finally be condemned and lost for ever.

Asked to explain such a mystery, Spurgeon constantly replied that it was not his business to do so. His duty was to deal with the whole range of Scriptural truth and to declare it in its true proportions. To limit the message to such truths as we can see to be consistent with each other is to excercise a liberty to which we have no right. The great error of Hyper-Calvinism is to neglect one side of the Word of God because it does not know how to explain both that the will of Godis effective and sovereign in all things and that man is free and responsible for all his actions. „Both are true; no two truths can be inconsistent with each other, and what you have to do is believe them both.” In an early sermon on ‘Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility’ Spurgeon introduced his subject with these words:

„The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once…Now, if I waqs to declare that man was free to act, that there is no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free to be responsible, I am driven at once to Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestinates and that man is responsible, are two things that few of us can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is the fault of our weak judgement…it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.

This truth will be found over and over again in Spurgeon’s sermons. Murray gives another example from another sermon where Spurgeon states:

But I do equally believe in the free agency of man, that man acts as he wills,especially in moral operations- choosing the evil with a will that is unbiased by anything that comes from God, biased only by his own depravity of heart and the peverseness of his habits; choosing the right too, with perfect freedom, though sacredly guided and led by the Holy Spirit…I believe that man is as accountable as if there were no destiny whatsoever…Where these two truths meet I do not know, nor do I want to know.

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