Friday, August 22, 2008

...and the threefold use of the law by Sproul and Calvin

The law of God has all but been abandoned today in gospel preaching and has produced "Finneyesque fruit" of half-hearted committments and temporary conversions all across our nation. The "new life" claimed by nearly forty million evangelicals today makes one wonder: if there is so much light in America, why is everything becoming so dark? Antinomianism is rampant today in evangelicalism (cp, Rom. 6:1) and due in part to the absence of the law in the proclamation of sola fide. I trust the following will encourage you to live by the Word of God, the gospel of God, and the law of God.

"Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19-20).

"So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good" (Romans 7:12).

"When God gives orders and tells us what will happen if we fail to obey those orders perfectly, that is in the category of what the reformers, following the biblical text, called law. When God promises freely, providing for us because of Christ's righteousness the status he demands of us, this is in the category of gospel. It is good news from start to finish. The Bible includes both, and the reformers were agreed that the Scriptures taught clearly that the law, whether Old or New Testament commands, was not eliminated for the believer (those from a Dispensational background may notice a difference here). Nevertheless, they insisted that nothing in this category of law could be a means of justification or acceptance before a holy God ... The law comes, not to reform the sinner nor to show him or her the "narrow way" to life, but to crush the sinner's hopes of escaping God's wrath through personal effort or even cooperation. All of our righteousness must come from someone else-someone who has fulfilled the law's demands. Only after we have been stripped of our "filthy rags" of righteousness (Isa. 64:6)- our fig leaves through which we try in vain to hide our guilt and shame-can we be clothed with Christ's righteousness. First comes the law to proclaim judgment and death, then the gospel to proclaim justification and life. One of the clearest presentations of this motif is found in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. In the sixteenth century, the issue of law and grace was more clearly dealt with than at almost any other time since the apostles." - Modern Reformation (May/June 2003: "Good News: The Gospel for Christians")

by R.C. Sproul

Every Christian wrestles with the question, how does the Old Testament law relate to my life? Is the Old Testament law irrelevant to Christians or is there some sense in which we are still bound by portions of it? As the heresy of antinomianism becomes ever more pervasive in our culture, the need to answer these questions grows increasingly urgent.

The Reformation was founded on grace and not upon law. Yet the law of God was not repudiated by the Reformers. John Calvin, for example, wrote what has become known as the “Threefold Use of the Law” in order to show the importance of the law for the Christian life.1

The first purpose of the law is to be a mirror.
On the one hand, the law of God reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. The law tells us much about who God is. Perhaps more important, the law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, “The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace.”2 The law highlights our weakness so that we might seek the strength found in Christ. Here the law acts as a severe schoolmaster who drives us to Christ.

A second purpose for the law is the restraint of evil.
The law, in and of itself, cannot change human hearts. It can, however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust. Calvin says this purpose is “by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.”3 The law allows for a limited measure of justice on this earth, until the last judgment is realized.

The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God.
As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.

By studying or meditating on the law of God, we attend the school of righteousness. We learn what pleases God and what offends Him. The moral law that God reveals in Scripture is always binding upon us. Our redemption is from the curse of God’s law, not from our duty to obey it. We are justified, not because of our obedience to the law, but in order that we may become obedient to God’s law. To love Christ is to keep His commandments. To love God is to obey His law.

1. The church today has been invaded by antinomianism, which weakens, rejects, or distorts the law of God.
2. The law of God is a mirror of God’s holiness and our unrighteousness. It serves to reveal to us our need of a savior.
3. The law of God is a restraint against sin.
4. The law of God reveals what is pleasing and what is offensive to God.
5. The Christian is to love the law of God and to obey the moral law of God.

Biblical passages for reflection:
Psalm 19:7-11
Psalm 119:9-16
Romans 7:7-25
Romans 8:3-4
1 Corinthians 7:19
Galatians 3:24

1. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:304-310.
2. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:306.
3. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:307.

this has been an encore presentation


Unchained Slave said...

Excellent article as usual Steve.

It seems from the last two articles you are hinting at something that has not been said outright:

Absolute Moral Truth Exists
That Truth is Defined by Scripture
It is our "Reasonable Service" - duty as Christians to obey that Truth

SJ Camp said...

And that that truth is what changes and impacts our culture...not political suasion!

Thank you as always for your encouraging words.

DaveMoore said...

RC Sproul is awesome.

Francis Schaeffer (FS) sounded a similar warning 21 years ago in his book “The Great Evangelical Disaster.” Schaeffer noted then that when Evangelicals had accommodated on truth (as many were silent when the higher critical method of interpreting Scripture began to take hold in seminaries that had formerly been fundamental), it led to accommodation on moral issues, like abortion. FS warned that a weakened view of Scripture led to a lack of any objective authority or relativism. FS said they were bending the Bible according to the culture instead of judging the culture by the Bible, and insisting that truth demanded loving confrontation, and that believers must be willing to draw the line when Biblical truth was compromised. FS further declared that a Christian’s calling is to exhibit the existence of God and His character by our individual and collective lives; how we live, how we love others, how we run our businesses, jobs, ministries, churches, and government; or in other words, in everything. I believe his words ring to today.

Efrayim said...


Good stuff. It is refreshing to read about people who are not afraid of Torah. In fact the word paranoid could be applied to some of those folks.
And this discussion may lead to some very instructive places. I hope so.
It would be nice, at least for me, if you could do a follow-up to this post with one that looks into some of the dispensational roots of antinomianism. There are more than a few denominations that preach dispensationalism a)without knowing because they only see Scripture through those glasses, or b)knowingly with the intention of making themselves preeminent by the exclusion of the children of promise (you and me).
There are probably several shades of gray in between there somewhere, but, unless they prove to be transitional, and therefore dangerous, they could be ignored for the sake of brevity and clarity.


Jeremy Weaver said...

Great post Campi!
I guess you which you had wrote it now! :)
Of all the preachers who have influenced me I don't know whether to rank Sproul or Piper first.
Sorry, Paul just asked me 'if Christ is divided'!
At any rate, I still like Sproul!

loren said...

Hi Steve,

Wow, it takes a lot of guts to post something about the law these days. Lots of Christians think it’s a dirty word now, but of course Paul tells us it is good for the one who uses it lawfully.

I think the basic principle behind the law is: ‘from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:45). In other words, the law is not just an abstract standard; but in each application of the law, God is telling us what He would have done. Therefore it is a reflection of His character, and it is in this sense that the law is our school master to lead us to Christ.

For the same reason, the law and the character of God match perfectly. When, as a new creation in Christ, we are made partakers of the divine nature, the law naturally matches with our new nature as well. Do we then make void the law through faith? On the contrary, we establish the law. Circumcision does not avail, but a new creation does.

Terry Rayburn said...

Law, Part 1, Third Use of The Law?

The so-called Third Use of the Law (Law as the “Rule of Life” for Christians) is a perversion of the glorious New Covenant established in the Blood of our Savior. The true “Rule of Life” for the Christian is not Law. It is “Faith”.

Reformed folks (of which I am one, regarding salvation) tend to be afraid of Grace after initial salvation and I have two possible theories why:

1. They have been so brainwashed with legalism and performance-based Christianity themselves, that their own eyes haven't been opened to the radical nature of Grace after salvation. Ask them about Christ "living His Life through me", and they will jump to remind you about your duty to buckle down and discipline yourself with self-control. If you remind them that self-control ironically is a fruit of the Spirit, and it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives through you [Galatians 2:20]...they will look at you as if you were some alien from another world. And if they are biblically knowledgeable, they will begin to quote you rule after rule, duty after duty, sin after sin, to beat down your "grace" once and for all,! (They love that word, because it keeps them from having to examine the biblical nature of Grace after salvation.).

2. They pretty much see the radical nature of New Covenant grace, but they are scared. Scared that if they preach it in all it's glory...if they truly preach "it is finished"... if they preach it without a mixture of the Law...then the sheep will run wild! Actually, the opposite is true. Real born-again Christians are new creations. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. We love Jesus, in our heart of hearts. We hate sin in our heart of hearts. When we hear how radically He has saved us, when we hear of His love that no sin or failure on our part will diminish, then the love of Christ constrains us to follow Him, to desire His ways, to fellowship with Him, to be filled with His Spirit.

The sheep don't run wild under grace. They run wild under Law, which quenches the Holy Spirit and inflames sin.

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” (Rom. 6:14)

Carpe Gratiam,
Terry Rayburn

Terry Rayburn said...

Law, Part 2, Antinomianism

Unfortunately, the term “Antinomianism” has been tossed around by law-oriented Christians so much that it has lost any real meaning. This has fed the curse of Legalism until Legalism has become a Monster That Is Eating The Church. I speak of that form of “legalism” which I call Performance-Based Christianity, as opposed to Grace-Based. In other words, Sanctification by Law, in direct contradiction to Gal. 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

So, some clarification:

True Antinomianism is a spirit of lawlessness. It’s the sign of an unregenerate person who professes to be a Christian, but who neither sees the beauty in God’s laws, nor has any real desire to follow them. True Antinomianism is a perversion of Grace, which says in effect that since sins are “paid for” on the Cross, then there really is no such thing as sin, and one can live their lives in any ungodly manner, and "who cares?"

But that’s not what the modern-day law-oriented Christians are calling Antinomianism. They are not railing against true Antinomianism. They are often railing against Grace itself, and thus stand at odds with the Gospel. When the true Gospel of Grace is preached, it prompts the question, “Wow! Should we sin, then, that grace might abound?” The answer is, of course, “No. We’ve died to sin, and are now alive to God! Now walk by His Spirit!” But the Gospel prompts the question precisely because it makes it clear that the law is nailed to the Cross, and we have died to the law, and are no longer under it.

Be very careful not to label as Antinomian those of us who “establish” or “uphold” the law of God so high that we know it is impossible for any mortal man to keep, and thus was unilaterally kept by the Man Jesus on our behalf, leaving us “justified”, a “new creation” who loves God and hates sin, and “not under law, but under grace”. This is the New Covenant in His blood.

Carpe Gratiam,
Terry Rayburn

ColinM said...

Thanks for the post. Let's talk about the recent trend to redefine what is actually moral law.
Rayburn: I think if you sat down and discussed this with a reformed brother, you would understand that you are objecting to his language, not his theology. You slam certain folks for misusing the term "antinomianism," then turn around and misuse "legalism." Legalism is works-based salvation, not striving to obey God's commandments. There is no difference between a grace-based and performance-based Christianity. Grace is how, performance is proof.

2Tal said...

I think it is important to try to adequately reconcile all texts and not just some to one's view. Being under the law and delighting in it and having it written on one's mind and heart is not the same thing. "What then do we nullify the law because we are no longer under sin?..we uphold the law." Jesus said "till heaven and earth pass away not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass". The Old Covenant Law (Decalogue) cannot be separated from the "law of Christ" because God's moral law does not change. Paul commands the Church to do the same things the Old Testament commands. I'm obviously just typing off the top of my head but it's obvious New Covenant Theology is simply ignoring the plethora of passages that speak against it.

Terry Rayburn said...


I'm not misusing the term "legalism", but zeroing in on one of its many forms. If I may quote myself:

I speak of that form of “legalism” which I call Performance-Based Christianity, as opposed to Grace-Based...

There are several other forms of legalism, for example:
1. There is initial salvation by works, which you allude to;
2. There is the Seventh Day Adventist legalism, which speaks of initial salvation by grace, but followed by law-works or you end up losing your salvation;
3. There is that extra-biblical type of cultural "legalism", such as "no lipstick", "no pants for ladies", etc.
4. There is pure Galatianism, which mixes law-works with grace, which of course makes it not grace.

The Perfomance-Based Christianity type I speak of is, I believe, the most destructive to the spiritual walk of the Christian, because it does several bad things:
1. It makes a Christian think they are better or worse than other Christians, causing pride or despair respectively;
2. It encourages the Christian to be self-centered -- always examining his navel as to whether he is "measuring up" (and he never is, of course) -- instead of being Christ-centered, looking to Jesus and fellowshiping with Him;
3. It encourages Daisy Theology -- "He loves me, He loves me not", robbing the believer of that precious and total love and acceptance that God has for him in Christ;
4. Worst of all, it adds law to grace, which Paul points out makes it no longer grace, whereupon one "falls from grace", as the Galatians did in their foolishness, and gets on the ground of Law, which quenches the Holy Spirit, and inflames sin.

The problem with Law-based living is that the one who lives that way
must 1. obey all of it, 2. obey it continually, 3. obey it perfectly. Sorry, but "Striving to obey God's commandments" won't cut it, and one who lives that way is cursed by his own paradigm.

"For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to perform them." (Gal. 3:10)


We are "...servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:6)

Terry Rayburn

2Tal said...

I reject the notion that the third use of the law "is a perversion of the glorious New Covenant established in the Blood of Christ"

No one is arguing that we shouldn't look to Christ and walk in the Spirit in fulfulling the law. What this article is simply saying is that the Bible commands (from Moses to Jesus to Paul) and it is the rule we must obey. YOu seem to take issue with this fact. Do you draw a line thru all Paul's various commandments such as to abstain from sexaul immorality, beat one's body into subjection etc.? We need the law to get an idea of what God's moral character looks like. There is nothing to obey without a command. We need the law to remind us how miserably we fall short and how desperately we need grace. We also need it to delight in it as was Paul's and David's confession.

SJ Camp said...

"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Message of Salvation to All
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." --Romans 10:1-10

loren said...

I think it helps to break the law down into three categories. The first is the ceremonial or sacrificial law. Basically, we just have to understand that Jesus fulfill all the imagery of those sacrifices through His own sacrifice (Zech 13:1).

Second is the civil law, made for law breakers. It doesn't apply to us because, as Christians, we don't break the laws (1 Tim 1:8-11)

The third category is called 'the righteous requirements of the law'. This is the part that refects God's character in teaching us how to love our neighbor. Example, Leviticus 19:9-18.

God gives His reasons for issuing each of those commands: 'I am the Lord'. In other words, "This is what I would have done. Immitate Me as dear children. Receive this as an ornament of grace; when you are old, do not depart from it."

This third category, which loves our neighbor, is the type of law that is fulfilled in us as a new creation (Rom 8:4).

Terry Rayburn said...


You write,

...the Bible commands (from Moses to Jesus to Paul) and it is the rule we must obey.

Whenever someone says that we Christians MUST obey some rule or law, two questions are raised in my mind:

1. To what extent MUST we obey? 10%, 50%, 99%? If you say 100%, you're correct. And thank God He did it for us, 'cause we can't DO 100. As the song says, "I'm running trying to make a hundred...ninety-nine and a half just won't do."

2. We "must"? What if we don't? I mean, "must" is a pretty strong word. Well, the answer is, if we are a born again Christian, we are forgiven...period. Grasp that profound, radical truth! When you do, "must" becomes a moot point. We "desire" to obey, in our very [reborn] spirit. And if we walk by the Spirit, we will obey. But if we walk by the flesh, all the "musts" get shaken off our backs like water off a wet dog.

The key, then, is not the law, it's the Spirit. Walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

You wanna "strive"? Don't strive to follow the law. Strive to spend time in His presence, communing with Him, loving Him, basking in His love for you, talking to Him, listening to Him through His Word.

Then the fruit of His Spirit will rise up in you (love, joy, peace...), and the glorious law of Christ planted in your heart will make the written commands seem like mere shadows of a much higher glory, fulfilled in you by Christ, as He lives His life through you.

Mount up with wings, baby!
Terry Rayburn

Unchained Slave said...

Respectfully, I submit:
There is an important element missing in these arguments.
The most import element -WHY.

Why did Jesus obey the law?
It was to present a ‘Perfect Sacrifice’. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Because of His Love for the Father. “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do…” John 14:31

How does that relate to us? We cannot be perfect. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

We are still told to “...present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1b
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

To what purpose?
First, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Love fulfills the ‘Law’.

What is the goal of fulfilling the law?
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

We obey the law to be conformed to the image of Christ - We know why Christ obeyed the law! “Because I love the Father” We obey to be ‘like Him’ - ‘Christian’ means ‘little Christ’. We obey the law because we LOVE!

If we ‘obey’ the law, or adopt some ‘legalistic’ attitude - “Do this OR else…” Obedience is not love it is fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Why obey the speed limit? Fear of the Law (a speeding ticket)
Why does one not hit their spouse? Love.
Which is better?

Brian said...

good comments terry, I happen to agree with you

I also don't buy into the camp that "breaks up the law" and fulfills part of it in Christ but leaves us bound by the other "part".

We have "freedom" in Christ. Everything is lawful for me as a Christian (but not all things are beneficial). The law (of Christ) is written in our hearts.

P.S. unchained slave, I liked your comments as well.

Bhedr said...

A man once told me years ago and it has never left my mind, "If you are trusting in something other than Jesus you are trusting in something false.

2Tal said...

Antinomian means "against the law". If someone has qualms with Paul's commandments to "purify themselves, abstain from sexual immorality etc." or with his warnings that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God, then they are clearly antinomian. They think the Spirit does it all for them (which is true) and they don't have to strive (which is not true) even though Paul said he beats his body daily into submission and to "stive after holiness without which no man shall see God." The Spirit "works in us to will to do of His good pleasure" but we still "will and do". The Spirit does not work apart from commandments since they are clearly given to believers. The N.T. speaks of "the law of Christ" and Jesus Himself said "till heaven and earth pass away not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away." New Covenant Theology says that if Christians look at the moral law of God it will have the same effect as an unbeliever (it will only provoke rebellion.) Then why did Paul and David say they delight in God's law? NCT then says that Jesus commands are all that applies and the Ten Commandments have no place in the Christian life. This is all riduculous since Christ Himself reaffirmed the Old Testament moral law. If someone can repudiate my understanding of these Scriptures (or previous ones mentioned by others) then I'm all ears. If not I guess we're all on the same page, and this is just semantic difference with no real disagreement.

Bhedr said...

Some more trucker chonicles:

A few months ago my truck broke down right at the ramp to the Chicken Coops(D.O.T scale house)

Great! I was thinking now I'm gonna get an inspection and the state trooper is going to be all over me asking questions trying to find out why I broke down and see if I did a complete pre-trip before I left.

He came over with a warm smile on his face. He saw the address to my terminal on the side of the truck and got even happier. He told me that was his home town. He had a bumper on his vehicle and was able to push my truck out of the way with it.

Later he came back over to check on me as I was waiting for a tow and told me he was buying my lunch today. He asked me what I wanted and drove off to buy it and bring it back to me. The whole time I felt somewhat nervous but very thankful as well as astonished that he was being so kind.

After returning back to the yard my fellow workers were astonished as well. One guy(who I have spent much time witnessing to) said as he always does, "the Man must have been looking out for you!" I usually tell him The Lord Jesus was looking out for me.

This whole experience helped me understand God's purpose for His law with his Children. We being on the other side of life in Yeshua the law is no longer a threat to us and is our helper, our teacher and instructer to help us on our way in following him. I need not fear it. The Law to my friend who feels that Jesus is just, "the man" is his death warrant. Please pray for him as he really has been warming up to me lately. He used to hate me and would even yell at me saying, "You're just trying to save everybody! You can't save everybody!"

Also pray for Darren our maintence forman. One day I tried to witness to him and he cut me off saying,"You keep your religion to yourself and I'll keep my women and wisky ways to myself!"

They know all to well the purpose of the Law and that is why they hide from it. When light conflicts with them then they reject it. Please pray for these men as they have finally stopped taunting me and are starting to warm up. I think they see hope as I have loved them and done good to them in spite of the evil they have done me.

Once one guy tried to get me in trouble by setting all radio stations to BBN(Bible Broadcasting Network) in another fella's truck and turning everything on.

They know. They know and only love to them will break there cold hearts that have been so mean to me. Pray for them. My heart weeps at the day I would have to see any of them wailing in hellfire.

Terry Rayburn said...

Dear Brother 2tal,

Though I trust it is unintentional, I believe you have set up a "straw man", which is "an argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated".

He, your straw man, is against God's law, but I hold His law in such high and lofty esteem as to declare that only Jesus Christ has ever kept it to the degree and standard required by the law itself.

As to the "straw man" aspects of your last post:

You wrote: If someone has qualms with Paul's commandments...

My reply: I have no qualms. I am in perfect agreement with Paul.

You wrote: They think...they don't have to strive (which is not true) even though Paul "strive after holiness without which no man shall see God."

My reply: (1) I never said we shouldn't "strive". I merely said we should strive to commune with Jesus, and walk by the Spirit, not strive to "obey" the law. (2) "strive after holiness" is a bad translation. Only the RSV uses "strive". The best translation is simply "pursue" (Gk. dioko), and "holiness" is better translated "sanctification" (Gk. hagiasmos), which has nothing to do with the law.

You wrote: The Spirit "works in us to will [and] to do of His good pleasure" but we still "will and do".

My reply: I, of course, never said we don't still "will and do", only that we are not under the law.

You wrote: NCT [New Covenant Theology] then says that Jesus' commands are all that applies and the Ten Commandments have no place in the Christian life. This is all ridiculous since Christ Himself reaffirmed the Old Testament moral law.

My reply: Of course Jesus affirmed the Old Testament moral law. He lived his earthly life under the Old Covenant, and thank God He kept the OC laws to perfection, in their entirety. He then made the Old Covenant obsolete by His death, which put the New Covenant into effect(Heb. 8).

One thing is for sure:

"For sin shall no longer be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:14)

"Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3)

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal. 5:1)

Terry Rayburn

BAG said...

I tenatively agree with Terry above. An antinomian definitely emphasizes (as Martin Luther did)discontinuity between old and new covenant. It seems many posts here naively understand "Antinomian" in its denotative sense (against law)--which indeed it is--but the language antinomian did'nt just arise in a vacuum--but there is a historic milieu in which this terminology was shaped. Like any theological construct antinomians should be viewed on a continuum (i.e. not a monolithic position). Some contemporaries do emphasize grace as a license to sin--but I would say historically this was not the original intent of the antinomian; rather the antinomian was posturing against the deuteronomic keeping of the "LAW" forwarded by Puritans/Precianist (i.e. as proving ones salvation).

The primary thrust of my post here will be to provide a simple understanding of what antinomianism is referencing historically. I will quote Theodore Dwight Bozeman and his comment on an original antinomian (John Eaton), and then comment myself.

On John Eaton (Born 1575 began articulating his theology around 1620):

. . . Again we that Eaton's deepest quarel was with the set of tendencies that we have called "strong Reformed." Against a deep-seated need to combine, link, and correlate pardon and morality, his instinct was to sunder and distance them. None of the familiar pairings--gospel and law, the New and the Old Testaments, or the Deuteronomic calculus tying divine favor to temporal rewards and punishments--had been spared; and now the crowning duality, the practical syllogism joining certainty of pardon to ethical states and works, also must be unlinked. Acting at once to lever apart the two poles and restore the supremacy of justification, Eaton tabooed behavior as a factor in assurance: "When thou desirest to bee holy and righteous before God, lean not thy life." (Theodore Dwight Bozeman, "The Precisianist Strain Disciplinary Religion & Antinomian Backlash In Puritanism To 1638," University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 194.)

John Eaton was a pastor/theologian in an age saturated by English Puritanism/Precisanism; this is the primary context of the antinomian controversy. A legitimate parallel can be drawn between Calvinist Puritanism of history, and contemporary Calvinism represented by John MaCarthur and others. The reality of current day Lordship salvation was played out, historically, in Puritan England/and the American Colonies; and Calvinists of today still are steeped in a tradition that emphasizes experimental predestinarian ideals, i.e. constantly proving there salvation/election by their ethical performance.

This is the wrong emphasis in salvation. The biblical framework of soteriology is built upon the fact of the New Covenant reality (i.e. gospel vs. law/Lutheran). The New Covenant displaces, in a discontinous fashion, the Old Covenant as obselete (cf. Heb. 8:13; II Cor. 3; Ezek. 36:24ff; etc.). The emphasis, now (i.e. New Covenant), isn't upon the "conditional nature" of the Mosaic (Old) Covenant; but the emphasis is rather built upon the "unconditional nature" of the New Covenant as it is founded upon better promises finding its fulfillment in the unchanging priesthood of our Savior Jesus Christ (read Hebrews).

Furthermore, an important consequence of current day nomism/Lordship Salvation/hyper-Calvinism, is that the Calvinist/Nomist concept of perseverance of the saints/and Arminian/Pelagian concept of "loosing salvation" can be reduced to the same functional understanding. They are both based upon a concept of the "Law" that is thoroughly conditional in nature. Thus the outworking of this is seen as these two theological constructs constantly are absorbed by individual ethical performance (thus proving their election)--and the resultant emphasis upon man's work in salvation, rather than elevating and magnifying the work of Christ in salvation.

The antinomian understanding doesn't get anyone off the hook ethically, so to speak, it just assumes that when genuine salvation has happened--the believer will recognize the Shepherd's voice (Jn 10), and be motivated and captured by a love of Christ in all that they say and do.

Lordship salvation/Nomism/Calvinism in fact has a consequence of lowering the wonderful work of Christ's salvation, rather than magnifying it as antinomianism does. I would re-think the relationship of law and gospel if I were holding a nomist/Lordship Salvation position. If my very very brief analysis presented above is accurate, then the nomist position does not seem to be a tenable (scriptural) position to continue to endorse within the body of Christ.

Terry Rayburn said...

Dear bag,

First, I agree with most of what I think you're saying (I say "think" because I find your writing overly "scholarly". I won't insult you by saying pseudo-scholarly, but I would urge you in love to write so as to take the hay out of the loft and put it on the floor for us plain folk.)

Second, I wouldn't give antinomianism as wide a "continuum" as you do. There are basically two common uses of "antinomian". 1. The TRUE antinomian who uses grace as a license to sin, and excuses sin as "no big deal", and 2. The common accusation against the one who lifts up the wonderful unilateral New Covenant of Jesus, and declares that all the sins of the born-again person are forgiven forever, apart from any law now or later (in other words The Gospel).

Number 2 above is NOT antinomianism. It's simply an incorrect, foolish use of the term by law-oriented (though sometimes well-meaning) Christians who haven't had the blessing of grasping our freedom in Christ.

So while you seem to position yourself as an antinomian (correct me if I misunderstand you), I do not position myself as one.

One who preaches the true gospel of grace always risks the label of "antinomian", but we must risk that unfair label or we pervert the gospel. When we preach that precious gospel, however, we must also teach the New Birth, which makes a new creation who loves Jesus and hates sin in their heart of hearts (spirit). If someone does not love Jesus and hate sin, they simply are not a Christian.

Terry Rayburn

BAG said...

Thanks for not insulting me, Terry :).

All I was trying to do was to try and provide some historical context for the language of "Antinomian".

If you think I'm positioning myself as an antinomian, according to your 1st definition (i.e. grace=license to sin)--then my original post totally failed to adequatley articulate my position.

If you're labeling me antinomian according to your 2nd definition--then yes I would agree--I am antinomian. I believe historic antinomians (i.e. John Eaton, John Cotton, et al)would fit into your 2nd definition. This is why I take issue with Sproul's caricature of antinomians as some sort of heresy.

If antinomians were defined historically by your first definition, then yes, I would agree, antinomianism would be heretical (according to Paul in Romans).

I've gotta run, I'll post later when I have more time . . .

Efrayim said...

Terry said:

"Be very careful not to label as Antinomian those of us who “establish” or “uphold” the law of God so high that we know it is impossible for any mortal man to keep, and thus was unilaterally kept by the Man Jesus on our behalf, leaving us “justified”, a “new creation” who loves God and hates sin, and “not under law, but under grace”. This is the New Covenant in His blood."

Impossible to keep?

So did YHVH hand out a deliberate death sentence to the very people He had just delivered from bondage? An interesting, but uninformed view of love I must say.

Have you read this before?

Deu 30:10 if you shall obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his mitzvot and his statutes which are written in this book of the law; if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.
Deu 30:11 For this mitzvah which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deu 30:12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?
Deu 30:13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?
Deu 30:14 But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

Those words would seem to contradict your assertions of Israel being given commandments they could not keep. Even Sha'ul makes his case for keeping the commandments:

Phl 3:4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
Phl 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
Phl 3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
Phl 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Phl 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
Phl 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith,
Phl 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Phl 3:11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

For Sha'ul to claim to be blameless in the righteousness which is contained in the Law means that he was either a braggart and a liar, or he meant what he said. I've included the rest of the verse to highlight this passage:

Phl 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord

Think about what Sha'ul meant when he said ALL things. If it included everything in his life, what that list look like? What would that list look like in your own life?

More to follow.....


Efrayim said...

As a follow-up to my previous post, this verse is key to understanding what Sha'ul is trying to communicate to his Hellenized audience.

Phl 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from {the} Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which {comes} from God on the basis of faith,

Why would Sha'ul have to make the distinction between depending on his own righteousness derived from obedience to Torah, from having a righteousness derived from faith in Messiah Yeshua to a group of people who lived outside of the bounds of Torah? Were they comtemplating becoming observant Jews, Pharisees perhaps? Is this a repeat of the error of the Galatian congregation? No, Scripture doesn't support that position.

And why would Sha'ul also make a distinction between the righteousness that comes from obedience to Torah (which is from Elohim), to the righteousness that comes from Elohim on the basis of faith? Is the one type (or form)of righteousness better than the other simply by how it is obtained?
Are they different? No!
For if the righteousness described in Torah is different, and somehow inferior, to the righteousness that comes through trusting in the finished work of Messiah Yeshua, than it immediately makes the case that the Elohim of Israel is unjust in His ways. I really don't think anyone here is trying to say that. But there should be consistency in what is presented.


Efrayim said...

Terry said:

"The best translation is simply "pursue" (Gk. dioko), and "holiness" is better translated "sanctification" (Gk. hagiasmos), which has nothing to do with the law."

The whole purpose of Torah is to separate (sanctify) His people.

Consider the following:

Deu 6:24 The LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day.
Deu 6:25 It shall be righteousness to us, if we observe to do all this mitzvah before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.

and again:

Exd 31:13 "Speak also to the children of Yisra'el, saying, 'Most assuredly you shall keep my Shabbatot: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you."

There are many more, but in the interest of space and time...

The Hebrew word for sanctify is "Kadosh". And it means "set apart". Which is exactly what His Torah did to the children of Israel. But when they hardened their hearts, disobeyed and broke the covenant, they became as the nations (goyim) around them, and were no longer set-apart. This is all detailed in Hoshea.

My two questions to anyone who might be interested are these:

1. Were the children of Israel "Kadosh" because of what they believed, or because of how they lived?

2. Can someone provide scriptural proof that the two are not related and that the one does not affect the other?


Bhedr said...

Efrayhim and some of the others,

Isn't there a passage in Acts where Peter asks,"Why do you want to lay on them that which we couldn't keep ourselves?" ?

I guess some would say that addresses the ceremonial laws but mercy does triumph over Judgment and whatever we want meeted out the same will be given back.

I think both legalists and Antinomians lose their focus which should only be on the power of the cross.

Be content with Calvary. Anything wich shifts focus is of thee SawTawn. This may seem simplistic but it is true.

Terry Rayburn said...


You are beyond refuting. Not because you are correct in your law-based views, but because you circle around and around the simple declarations of the New Covenant:

1. We are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)

2. We died to the law. (Gal. 2:19)

3. All things are lawful for [us], though not all things are profitable, and we don't want to be mastered by anything. (1 Cor. 6:12)

All your other convoluted meanderings about the obsolete Old Covenant have worn me out. Too many spider webs spun all over the place. Unraveling them, I fear, would merely cause more spinning.

I leave you with this simple truth: "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." (Rom. 11:6)

Terry Rayburn

Carlos said...

Hey there seems to be a little misundertsanding in the Law still being around for believers. Aren't we set free from THE LAw of Sin and Death to follow a new law of Spirit and Life. Saying I don't follow the Law of Moses is not to say I don't follow a LAW. I do follow the law of the Spirit which by the way brings Life. Additionally Paul said all the law can do is produce sin. Sin finds it's power in the Law. Well I will stop for now and see what you think? Did I miss the point? You cannot talk about stopping the spin and then try to spin Law and grace together. Sorry

Carlos said...

Got cut off it seems I posted prematurely. What I was trying to say was I agree with you and the position that the Law cannot be kept or make me righteous. I was frustrated by the articles from Sproul and Calvin trying to make the Law the savior. Oh yeah one other thing I have found useful when upbraided by the non-antinominist (legalist) is this: When they scream you have got to balance that grace teaching with something. I agree but it is not the Law: it is the Spirit. Stopping the spin will not be easy.

BAG said...

Efrayim questioned:

"1. Were the children of Israel "Kadosh" because of what they believed, or because of how they lived?"

His question operates under a "faulty dilemma;" it's neither--Israel was accounted "kadosh" because of ""WHO"" they believed, YHVH (see Gen. 15:6--Abraham believed YHVH and it was accounted to him as righteousness). Paulos :) in Romans 4 appeals to this passage to establish the basis of YHVH's salvation, i.e. the UNIVERSAL-UNCONDITIONAL-UNILATERAL/ABRAHAMIC COVENANT (by the way this is also Torah-Instruction). The New Covenant is tied into and founded upon the Abrahamic Covenant, not the Mosaic (ethnocentric--Israel/conditional)covenant.

Furthermore, the New Covenant is explicitly identified, by YHVH, as something different than the Mosaic Covenant that Efrayim continues to forward as synonymous with Torah (Efrayim also fails to make a distinction within his understanding of Torah, i.e. Torah is "more than" just the paradigmatic decalogue and the casuistic law codes of the Mosaic Covenant Deut 28--30; Lev 26; etc); notice what Jer. 31:31ff says:

"Behold days are coming declares the YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares YHVH. 33. But this is the covnenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares YHVH, I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. . . ."

YHVH Himself makes clear that the the New Covenant is discontinuous and different than the Mosaic Covenant--it's a law that transforms the heart (not some external moral ethical standard which produces death).

Jesus came under the Law (Gal. 4) in the pleroma (fullness) of time finding "corporate solidarity" with the NATION of Israel--and via His recapitulation, in their stead, bore the consequences (the curse of the law/old covenant)thus fulfilling the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant (Gal. 3). It is on this basis that the Apostle Paulos rebukes Peter when he says:

"16. . . . nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." (Gal. 2:16).

Paulos must've been aware of the discontinuity between the old and new covenants. No one can be justified by the works of the Law, because no one can keep the Law--thus it points somewhere else--that is Christ (Gal 3:24). Once Christ fulfilled the requirements of the old covenant it no longer is binding, salvifically, only belief in Christ is required (cf. John 3:16ff/He is the law keeper who moved us onto something better based on better promises--see Hebrews).

The old covenant is a temporary covenant to vouchsafe the reality (i.e. given the high impossibility of anyone's ability to keep every aspect of the Law Code)of the basis of the universal Abrahamic Covenant; viz. that righteousness/holiness is based upon ""WHO"" a person believes in not what he/she does.

The New Covenant is based on better promises, and is different than the old covenant (per Jer 31).

Efrayim I'm not arguing that ethical performance isn't important--just that it serves no basis whatsover for a person's salvation--the finished work of Jesus Christ alone serves as the foundation. It seems like you want to imbue our ethical performance (keeping the decalogue) with salvific significance--do you?

Ephraim said...

Testing my new username. Lost my account somewhere.

Ephraim said...

Ok it's working again.

In response to the responses I've received:

No, No, and No!

I am NOT saying that performing some or all of the works of the Mosaic covenant are necessary for the salvation of anyone. If I were saying that, I could rightly be labeled a fool, a heretic and a liar.

Please let me be clear. I would never tell anyone that they must receive their salvation any differently than I received mine! Salvation is NOT available outside of the grace of Elohim given us by faith in and through His Son, Messiah Yeshua.

And I have not said that salvation comes through the works of the Law on this or any other blog. If anyone thinks that I am proposing such a heresy, please say so directly and I will respond directly.

What I am trying to say is this; that the covenants that Elohim has made with humanity throughout history are NOT mutually exclusive. When the promises contained in an earlier covenant are fulfilled, the completing of the requirements for that fulfillment do not destroy the tenants or principles of the previous covenant. In saying that I do know that there are portions of the requirements of the previous covenants that do not carry over to the next. That is obvious and should be understood without a lot of words in that direction.

Yeshua fulfilled the Law. We all agree on that point. If the completing, or fulfilling if you prefer, means that the terms of the previous covenant are no longer binding upon His people, than what would be the purpose of providing a solution to a problem that no longer exists? You would have no need for grace. But as Yochanan says, "sin is the transgression of the Law."

Which brings us back to the point of this posting by Steve Camp in the first place. To argue that we are no longer "under the Law" in the context of the original post is to miss the purpose of the message.

My purpose in asking questions is to hopefully bring about some thinking outside the box (whatever your definition of the "box" is is probably just fine).

Look at Behdr's quote:

"Isn't there a passage in Acts where Peter asks,"Why do you want to lay on them that which we couldn't keep ourselves?" ?"

What's missing here? Context!
What was the problem they were discussing? Physical circumcision of the new converts. Is Kefa saying that the Jews were having trouble getting physically circumcised and so they didn't want to burden the new converts with it? No.
If you don't know what "burden" they were talking about, it would be easy to fill in the blank with something that we are concerned about today. And in doing so the point of that discussion would be missed.And misused.

To finish up with this discussion;

Both sides of Sha'ul's arguments need to be considered. They are not contradictory to one another. Nor does he contradict the declarations of the prophets.

I hope that I have cleared up some of the confusion about what I am trying to communicate. If not, please let me know so that I can do so.


Bhedr said...


Was it fair of you to say I spoke out of context? Did I not mention that some would say this applies only to ceremonial law. To further extend what laying on of the 'burden' means lets look at the answer from the apostles to the gentiles: Abstain from sexual immorality and meats offered to idols. It would appear that the apostles were concerned that the gentiles would be bogged down with commandments would it not?Paul said the love of Christ constrained him. Mercy triumphs over Judgment.

Ephraim said...


Yes, you left out the context of what the apostles were discussing. Consider this text:

Mat 23:4 "For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them."

That is speaking of the traditions men had added to Torah which rendered the commandments ineffective in the people's lives. I'm sure the apostles did not want to bring the newly converted gentiles under that weight.

Or how about this:

Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The apostles gave the new converts 4 items to observe. All of them based in and on Torah. So where would you place the "burden" Yeshua is speaking of in this context?
Would 4 commands from the apostles be considered "light", and 613 commands from Elohim be considered "heavy"?
Or, would only the additional weight of the traditions of the ruling religious sects of that time be considered "too heavy" for the newly converted?

If the ceremonial portion of Torah was what the apostles were referring to as being "too heavy" for the gentiles, then why didn't they just say so and tell the believers that they should keep the Mosaic covenant minus the sacrificial system and the accompanying Levitical priesthood?

In fact, why not just cut to the chase and tell them to love Elohim with all their heart and strength and love their neighbor as themselves? What is up with the meat and idol thing? Wouldn't love alone point a person in the right direction and keep them there through thick and thin? I mean, we're talking grace here. Who cares if an animal has been strangled, or if there is blood in the meat, or if the meat had been sacrificed to an idol? Love is what matters here, right? What we eat or don't eat does not commend us to Elohim does it?
And about that sexual immorality thing. That's pretty vague. Did they mean for these gentiles to avoid adultery only as written in the 10 commandments? Or did they mean for these new believers to abstain from ALL of the sexual immorality listed in among those 613 commandments? That would take some study on their part.
So did the apostles make a mistake and issue the wrong commandments and inadvertently send those folks off in the wrong direction, the direction of having to learn what the Torah said about those 4 commands? Instead of relieving them of the burden of having to walk according to the commandments of Elohim, they caused them to get all tangled up in trying learn and understand what the commandments have to say about how a believer should walk out this new faith in the Hebrew Messiah.

Really, Bhedr, I am asking all these questions because there are more things to consider than the words we have printed on the pages of our bibles. We know the words. Many can quote them without even looking, and many more know where they can be found on those pages.

Was I fair in my estimation of your comment? You may not think so, someone else might think I was. Either way, my goal is still to try and get believers to think about what they take for granted, and, hopefully dig a little deeper, seek a little longer, and ultimately, draw closer to the One who has called them out of darkness and into His light.


Bhedr said...

You quoted:Mat 23:4 "For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them."

Good portion of scripture to quote from and have seared into the mind. Especially that last part.. but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them."

My only prayer is that we wake up to this before we experience it and learn it the hard way.

2Tal said...

I was curious if you believe both N.T. commands and O.T. commands reflect the very nature and character the God we adore?

As long as people understand that God fullfills all the requirements he demands in His elect and that they WILL love God's moral character revealed in His laws, I have no objection. I sensed Terry thought those who delight in God's law and have them written on their hearts are inflamed to sin when reading law in N.T. If I was wrong here I apologize. To be under the law is to be under sin. Christians are never "under law". (There's straw man to agrue some still are.) (Sorry I still agree with Sproul and Calvin since nothing about walking in the Sprit or looking to Christ is in conflict with it.)

Terry Rayburn said...


Yes, I "believe both N.T. commands and O.T. commands reflect the very nature and character [of] the God we adore".

To clarify, I wouldn't say that New Covenant saints are inflamed by sin merely by acknowleging or delighting in the commands of God, but they are prone to sin when they get off of the ground of grace and get "under law" as a "rule of life".

Consider these two verses:

"But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead." (Rom. 7:8)

"...the power of sin is the law." (1 Cor. 15:56b)

That's why I disagree with the so-called Third Use of the Law as a "rule of life" for the believer. I don't believe there is scriptural support for it, but there's plenty of scriptural support for "Faith" being our rule of life.

Though law is a reflection of our Lord's heart, viewing it as a "rule of life" is a guarantee of continual failure on man's part, resulting ironically in self-centered self examination, and taking our eyes off of Christ.

Sola gratia,
Terry Rayburn

2Tal said...

You keep taking verses that clearly refer to the past life of unregenerate man "at enmity against God" and "unable to please God" or obey His law and then apply all this to Christians.

For the New Creation "all things have passed away>. Behold all things have become new." You say you agree that the moral laws of the O.T. and N.T. reflect the character of the very God we adore and that we delight in these laws and that these are the very laws the God Himself has written on our hearts. You say you agree with all of this and then you say but they are not a rule of life for us. How can this be? We know those who do not keep His commandments are liars and have not the truth in them. I John. We know Jesus said "If you love me you will keep my commandments". How are they not a "rule of life" (i.e. commandment to keep while living). No one is saying we can keep His commandments thru the power of self reliance (i.e. the flesh). No one is saying that we are "under sin" or under the condemnation of the law and not under grace. No is saying that we do not seek to obey by depending on the strength His Spirit supplies. This is would be mere fabrication. But to say the very law of God Himself is not a rule of life for the believer and that we are under no obligation to keep it seems a little fishy to me.

Terry Rayburn said...


You really haven't addressed specifically much at all of what I've written in this long thread.

Theoretically, I may be right or wrong in what I've written. But if you don't address what I've written previously, then it's pointless for me to explain myself further.

For example, on August 20, just one part that I wrote to you went as follows, and you didn't even TOUCH UPON a response in any way:

August 20 excerpt:


You write,

...the Bible commands (from Moses to Jesus to Paul) and it is the rule we must obey.

Whenever someone says that we Christians MUST obey some rule or law, two questions are raised in my mind:

1. To what extent MUST we obey? 10%, 50%, 99%? If you say 100%, you're correct. And thank God He did it for us, 'cause we can't DO 100. As the song says, "I'm running trying to make a hundred...ninety-nine and a half just won't do."

2. We "must"? What if we don't? I mean, "must" is a pretty strong word. Well, the answer is, if we are a born again Christian, we are forgiven...period. Grasp that profound, radical truth! When you do, "must" becomes a moot point. We "desire" to obey, in our very [reborn] spirit. And if we walk by the Spirit, we will obey. But if we walk by the flesh, all the "musts" get shaken off our backs like water off a wet dog.

Until you come to grips with that, 2tal, there will continue to be a blockage in your understanding of the difference between grace and law, which are antithetical.

Terry Rayburn

Bhedr said...

Terry you offer all of us hope with your true exposition of the word. Grace to walk brother. Thanks! Who would want to even quibble with grace. I also do not appreciate the jump many people make to labeling one as antinomian as he contends for grace. I don't think it is any more fair than for us to accuse some of these other brothers as being Anti-Christ.

Bhedr said...

The context for Matt 23:4?

Do what they say but not as they do, for they say and do not do. This is also the context of Romans 2.

What sleeps at the core of necessity for true repentance? The context? What does Luke 13 have as the context for that famous truth said by the Son of God? Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish!

Context-DO YOU SUPPOSE THEY WERE GREATER SINNERS than YOU? Read and memorize ROMANS 2:1-4. This will blow the caverns of self-righteousness out and get one on their knees as the publican. NOT SO MUCH AS LIFTING HIS HEAD TO HEAVEN. i.e-comparing oneself to one another to determine who is obeying the law. i.e-you are an antinomian; this gives the ring of(Lord I thank you that I am not like this man)

God hates pride above all things.

Ah the great paradox that sleeps here. It is so sneaky. Upon entrance in the Marines the recruits whinned at loosing their earings and long hair. 3 months later these same disciplined Marines looked down on other men as they used to be and called them slimy civilians. Ah the pride that so subtly sleeps.

2Tal said...

I have come to grips with all you've stated here. What I haven't come to grips with is your protrayal of what Calvin, Sproul, Camp, myself and others believe.

If I respond to everything you've stated will you respond to everything I've stated?

Do you believe the call to beleive is a commandment? If belief in Christ is a commandment is it something that all "must" do? If so why? After all, it is God who grants faith thru the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit is it not? "He who says 'I know Him' and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in Him." I don't really feel the need to quantify this verse to a certain percentage but what are commandments if not something to be obeyed? If "must" is incorrect regarding keeping commandments how should I have phrased it? Really, I think we are missing each other here like two ships passing each other in the ocean. (But it sure gives good posting numbers does it not?) I agree with your emphasis of faith, grace, and the Spirit as the only way to please God. So does Calvin, Sproul, MacArthur, and everyone else. That's why I simply think your portrayal of this article is inaccurate.

Bhedr said...


I am not Terry but I would like you to consider this a delicate issue; if an emphasis is placed on law then we can have many converts who turn from sinful behavior and seek to please Christ yet never entering into His rest. I agree the law is important in that if a person is habitually going after sin and fully enjoying it with no qualms thinking his sinners prayer was a ticket to Disney Land as heaven then I would place a ball in your court. I don't think this is what Terry is after though. I think he is trying to isolate the first virus I mentioned. This is something the elder prodigal could not see. Ask John Wesley. He thought he was saved and prayed diligently thinking he was saved and dedicated and repentant to Christ yet he knew there was no rest in Grace.

Also I know some are quick to assume that reformers had it all together. By many of you all's standards you would have written Luther off as a Antinomian as he wanted to throw out the book of James from Canon; not understanding the book to be written to believers as a stir to examination. You see the law is there for a examination to the Disney mind set(why call ye Me Lord and do not the things that I say?) but the law should not be the focus. Grace should be. You cannot harmonize the two. It is either one or the other and we must be ever so careful in examining others as we are told to always consider ourselves lest we be tempted.

I appreciate you 2tal.

2Tal said...

Thanks Brian,
I apologize if I come across as polemical or acerbic (Sproul words I ripped off) when debating this issue. It always seems to come to balance. Terry is pointing out that the law is fulfilled in Christ and that to focus on the law can lead to placing confidence in the flesh rather than seeking and relying upon the Spirit. Reformed theology points out that at the beginning of the ten commandments God says "I am the Lord you God who has brought you out of bondage" and therefore delighting in His law and keeping His commandments is not bondage. On the one hand, Terry guards against the danger of legalism and confidence in the flesh reverting back to works- based salvation like the Galations. Reformed Theology guards against thinking commandments have no place for the Christian. I think both sides are true. Maybe we just need to give the other side a little more credit.
Banking on Christ,

Bhedr said...


I can almost hear the classical music from Tabletalk as you rip off Sproul's words:-)

Really though all that goes flying out the windows though when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and he becomes a yuk yuk good ol' boy like the rest of us.


P.S-Ed 2 tall jones used to be my hero and Pittsburgh was the heartbreaker years ago but I will overlook all of this since I like Sproul.

Rick Frueh said...

Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwaoman shall not be heir with the son of the free.

Stephen Garrett said...

The Christian has one lawgiver, that is Christ, not Moses. Christians are not under the Old Covenant, period. We go by the rules and precepts of the New Covenant alone. We do not go to the law for our "rule of life," but to the example of Christ, and to the commandments that he now makes binding on men.

Whatever is not commanded in the New Covenant is not binding upon Christians.

Besides, who is it that divides up God's law into ceremonial, moral, etc.? Did the bible writers so segregate the law?

God bless,


theoldadam said...

If it is the Spirit of God that does "good works" in us and through us, and all of our righteous deeds are as filthy rags, then I don't see any practical use for the "third use".

We know what is pleasing to God. After all, the law is written upon our hearts.

The fact of the matter is that even when we know what is pleasing to God, we just flat out refuse to do it.

Kudos to all of you who are not afraid to be called names by our Christian brethren who just can't let go (of the law)and let God create in them a clean heart from His good and gracious will and not by force of the law.



gigantor1231 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gigantor1231 said...


Simply put it is only by grace that we can love the law of God because it is in and through grace that it is and was fulfilled. We are no longer under the penalty of the law because of grace and it is grace that allows us to be obedient to God's law, the greatest commandment is this, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second greatest is like it, to love our neighbor as ourselves. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. Mt. 22: 37-40 and Mk. 12: 28-34. Apart from grace we can do nothing, but with God's grace all things are possible!

Peter said... I think Mr. Piper says it well when it comes to the Law..

DAO said...

surely the Law reveals what is pleasing to God. Keep in mind the proper function of law: it only and always demands...never, ever gives!

Gospel, on the other hand only and always gives, never, ever demands.

To confuse these is a recipe for death.

Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, 1558
We divide this Word into two principal parts or kinds: the one is called the 'Law,' the other the 'Gospel.' For all the rest can be gathered under the one or other of these two headings...Ignorance of this distinction between Law and Gospel is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt Christianity.

C.F.W. Walther, Law & Gospel, 1884
The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording a correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book....The Word of God is not rightly divided when the law is not preached in its full sternness, and the gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, gospel elements are mingled with the law and law elements with the gospel.

J. Gresham Machen, What Is Faith?, 1925
A new and more powerful proclamation of law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. As it is, they are turning aside from the Christian pathway; they are turning to the village of Morality, and to the house of Mr. Legality, who is reported to be very skillful in relieving men of their burdens... 'Making Christ Master' in the life, putting into practice 'the principles of Christ' by one's own efforts-these are merely new ways of earning salvation by one's obedience to God's commands.

Surely the Law reveals what is pleasing to God...but there is no power in the Law at all to keep its just demands!

Christ for me...from beginning to end.

adamtown64 said...

Christians are to avoid sin out of love for their Savior.

Simpy put, the 10 commandments defines sin.

in Christ,