By Jeff Paton
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-- you may well put up with it. 2 Cor. 11:3-4
“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24
IDOLS-FALSE WORSHIP, there is no way to put a happy face on the grim possibility that many people are worshipping the wrong Christ instead of the Christ of the Bible. If the person we call “Jesus” is not the same character that the Scriptures define, and especially if that character opposes what Christ taught, then we have created an idol of our own imagination, and we are not serving the real Jesus of the Bible. There would be literally be no difference between between worshipping a statue of wood or stone that we call “God,” and creating a Jesus of our own imagination that never existed, and claiming that “idol” as our very God! Is the false comfort of our "mental" idol more important than knowing the real Jesus Christ? Or will we be fools and close our intellect to the fact that today many are teaching “another” Christ that is not the Christ of the Bible?
As unpopular as this question may be, God placed an immense importance upon the matter! My purpose in writing is not to seek someone to condemn, nor is it to thump my chest arrogantly claiming that my way is the only way, but it is with a heavy heart that I breach the ground in which many see as sacred ecumenical ground.
If God be true, and the person who is worshipping a God of their own invention is doomed to Hell for believing, [no matter how genuinely,] in the idol they erected above the One True God, then in the interest of souls we must take a hard look at what we call “God.”
Gal 1:6-9 says, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
By this one verse alone, we can see that the One True God means business! There is no hint of compromise in His statement! One thing that becomes painfully clear is, that in the course of having “another” Christ, one inevitably holds to “another gospel.” You see, if we have the Biblical Christ who said, “Go and sin no more,” who rebuked the Pharisees for perverting the way to God to be by virtue of one's own merit, we must conclude that any so-called “Christ” that is not concerned with personal holiness, or elevates personal works as the way to salvation, has invented “another gospel” that matches the flawed and unbiblical character of the false Christ they have invented.
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and in which you stand By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. 1 Cor. 15:1
Starting right in the Gospel is no guarantee that one will remain faithful to the true Gospel. Unfortunately, most people that are presently astray of the true Gospel were educated into heresy after they have been saved. They started right, but do not finish well. [see Gal. 3:3]
Paul emphatically says that some people in his day received the true Gospel, and he stated that it was essential that they “stand,” or more plainly stated, that they “remain” in the truth of that Gospel, or they may have ultimately believed in vain!
There are two great heresies that the Scriptures reveal as “other gospels,” or strange doctrines that will lead a person to Hell, regardless of their profession of faith and salvation; these are: License and Legalism.
THE UNETHICAL CHRIST- THE CHRIST OF ANTINOMIANISM
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Antinomianism is a Biblical word based upon the Greek ANOMOS. NOMOS, meaning "law," and the "A" in front of it meaning "anti" or "against." It is to be "against the law," or to "be lawless." The term ANOMOS is a noun that is to be found 12 times in the New Testament. Its translation is "transgressor," "wicked," "lawless," without law," and "unlawful." The verb ANOMIA occurs 15 times in the New Testament, being translated as "transgression of the law," "transgress the law," and "unrighteousness."
Matthew 7:21-23 says:
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that [anomia] work iniquity. The word ANOMIA is describing a person that teaches and lives their life as a "practical antinomian."
In a nutshell, an antinomian is a person that is either "without law," or teaches others to be "without law." It is to discard any rule of law or standard upon those they say are saved by grace. They convolute all conditions of the Gospel to be "works," i.e., earning one's salvation. The Antinomian cannot differentiate between a faith that works, and a person working to save themselves. To them, it is all the same.
"Fundamental Christianity in our times is deeply influenced by that ancient enemy of righteousness, Antinomianism. The creed of the Antinomian is easily stated: We are saved by faith alone; works have no place in salvation; conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance. What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly. The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final. The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God. Such in brief, is the teaching of the Antinomian. And so fully has it permeated the Fundamental element in modern Christianity that it is accepted by the religious masses as the very truth of God. Antinomianism is the doctrine of grace carried by uncorrected logic to the point of absurdity. It takes the teaching of justification by faith and twists it into deformity." Paths to Power, A.W. Tozer.
The problem has existed in the Church since Biblical time; Paul countered the idea, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!" in Romans 6:1-2. If some Antinomians did not suggest such an absurdity, it is unlikely that Paul would never have made mentioned of it or refuted it! It was heresy then, and it is still so today!
This issue was strongly debated in the 1700's in England. The Reverend John Fletcher detailed it this way:
"An Antinomian is a professor of Christianity, who is antinomos, against the law of Christ, as well as against the law of Moses. He allows Christ's law to be a rule of life, but not a rule of judgment for believers, and thus he destroys that law at a stroke, as a law; it being evident that a ruled by the personal observance or non-observance of which Christ's subjects can never be acquitted or condemned, is not a law for them. Hence he asserts that Christians shall no more be justified before God by their personal obedience to the law of Christ, than by their personal obedience to the ceremonial law of Moses. Nay, he believes that the best of Christians perpetually break Christ's law; that nobody ever kept it but Christ Himself; and that we shall be justified or condemned before God, in the great day, not as we shall personally be found to have finally kept or broken Christ's law, but as God shall be found to have, before the foundation of the world, arbitrarily laid, or not laid, to our account, the merit of Christ's keeping His own law. Thus he hopes to stand in the great day, merely by what he calls 'Christ's imputed righteousness'; excluding with abhorrence, from our final justification, the evangelical worthiness of our own personal, sincere obedience of repentance and faith, — a precious obedience this which he calls ‘dung, dross, and filthy rags' just as if it were the insincere obedience of self-righteous pride, and Pharisaic hypocrisy. Nevertheless, though he thus excludes the evangelical, derived worthiness of the works of faith, from our eternal justification and salvation, he himself does good works, if he is in other respects a good man. Nay, in this case, he piques himself on doing them, thinking he is peculiarly obliged to make people believe that, immoral as his sentiments are, they draw after them the greatest benevolence and the strictest morality." But there are multitudes carelessly following the stream of corrupt nature who are crying out, not against the unholiness, but against the “legality, of their wicked hearts, which still suggest that they must do something, in order to attain eternal life." They decry that evangelical legality which all true Christians are in love with—a cleaving to Christ by that kind of faith which works righteousness—a following Him as He went about doing good, and a showing by St. James' works that we have St. Paul 's faith.
The consistent Antinomian — that is, one whose practice accords with his theory — is loud in his proclamation of a finished eternal salvation, the blotting out of his sins, past, present and future, on the Cross eighteen hundred years ago, without respect to his own conduct, character, or works. His salvation is so finished that no sins can ever blot his name out of the Book of Life. He thinks that the Son of God magnified the law that we might vilify it; that He made it honorable, that we might make it contemptible; that He came to fulfill it, that we might be discharged from fulfilling it, according to our capacity. He has no sympathy with David's confession: "I love Thy commandments above gold and precious stones: I will always keep Thy law, yea, forever and ever: I will walk at Liberty , for I seek Thy precepts." [Antinomianism Revived, Dr. Daniel Steele]
Antinomianism is basically the “sin and win” philosophy that a believer can be as reprobate in their actions as the worst heathen, and still never be in threat of going to Hell. They decry “works” as evil, even though the Scriptures call them “good” and the necessary fruit of being “in” Christ.
One example of modern heresy of Antinomianism is contained here in a portion of a dialog that I had with a committed Antinomian:
Antinomian: “Even if we sin willfully, we are still saved. If you are a believer you ought to be serving the Lord, but even if you sin willfully, you are still saved. God loves you that much.”
I asked: “Let me get this straight… you claim that I can live as if I have never been converted, sinning willfully, and still be perfectly saved, yet, if I try to please my Lord and live by His commands and His power to do so, and believe that the Scriptures say that there are conditions to salvation, then I am not saved?”
Antinomian: “That's exactly correct. You have at least finally have been brought to the true message of the Gospel. You will have no excuse now. Once you have trusted Christ as your ONLY hope of heaven, then yes you can live as you please and still be saved.”
His statement is not only utter nonsense, it is plain unadulterated HERESY! Such Antinomian teaching will damn multitudes to an eternal Hell, while this false teacher tickles the ears of the gullible and lays soft doctrinal pillows under their heads to lull them to sleep, he should be teaching the Bible and pleading that they should repent of their sins and be awakened! Contrary to his belief, their are no passages in all of Scripture state that those that willfully live in sin are saved! Is your idol and license to sin all that precious that you would rather cling to the hope of a lie of the devil over the clear proof of dozens of passages to the contrary?
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6).
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not after the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8: 12-13).
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4).
“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned” in his sin that he hath sinned, in them he shall die” (Ezek. 18:24).
Shame on the person who would discard God’s words on the issue by shoving it all off as something from the past that does not apply to Christians today! It is confirmed in the New Testament as well as the Old. “But every man is tempted, when he drawn is away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err brethren.” (James 1:15).
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [Gen. 2:17].
The Antinomian seeks to twist the meaning of spiritual death in these passages to only mean physical death. This would mean that God is a liar when he told Adam and Eve “in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.” They did not die a physical death “in that day”! The wages of sin is death! Spiritual death! It would render these passages above to be nonsensical if it were physical death, since one dies whether they sin or not! You see, by making the passages warn us about something that is inevitable anyway, makes the warnings against sin to be of no effect! That is exactly what the Antinomian wants to see happen!
Notice how the Antinomian makes holiness and obedience to God’s commands to be “earning one’s salvation” or “works.” They make what God calls good and essential to be an evil that automatically damns a person to Hell! But our Antinomian says that we can sin all we want with impunity, and be sure of our salvation! Can you honestly believe that this person with such teaching would stand unrebuked if they were saying this to Jesus Christ, Paul, James, John, Peter, or any other Biblical writer?
Ironically, such a statement is actually a denial of the doctrine of Eternal Security which all Antinomians believe. He says that all Legalists are going to Hell without exceptions, yet he teaches that we can sin all we want and because of "Eternal Security," we will surely go to heaven! But the last time I checked, Legalism was a sin, and if all sin is paid for, how can his Eternal Security ever fail me? This is a glaring inconsistency which is arrogant, unloving, and anti-Christian to the core! If their doctrine of Eternal Security is powerless to save one that slips into Legalism, then it is a direct proof that they really do not believe that Eternal Security is true! If that is so, then what is left to rebuke me? Does the Bible say that faithfulness, holiness, enduring, abiding, remaining, or continuing in the faith to be sins? No! It says that these are the "normal" evidences and fruit of salvation!
Antinomians want us to believe that all works of faith are evil, and even threaten our salvation! They ignore the obvious fact that the Bible speaks out much more against the danger of Antinomianism than it does Legalism. In the Church today, as it was in the Early Church, the major problem is not that Legalism is preached, but sin is not condemned, but was accepted as normal for the Christian. Most Antinomian Churches today choose to ignore Scripture and history when they lower the bar of regeneration down to the lowest possible level of the level of the unregenerate; this defiant act makes regeneration unnecessary, or at the best a meaningless thing! Apparently, swelling the ranks of their "church" is more important than building the true Church of Jesus Christ! In direct defiance to God's Word, they torture the idea of holiness of heart and life that the Bible constantly pushes the Believer towards, as something optional, or worse, something anti-Christian and evil! They speak of faithfulness as something an unbeliever does! They mock and smear genuine faith as as evil, and teach that it is impossible and unreasonable, or even sinful to be obedient to Christ! They love evil so much that they substitute Antinomianism for the Gospel, giving their people a license for sin, and have the audacity to claim that such a doctrine has the endorsement of the Bible!
For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother (Mark 3:35).
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Mark 12:50).
Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).
What is our concept of God? What is our attitude towards sin? How do the two relate? Do we have “God,” or a “god”? God says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7).
The Scriptures tell us that there are those who believe in God, “but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness” (Isa. 59: 2-3). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded; Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up“ (James 4: 8-10). He doesn’t just leave us in our sin, merely changing our eternal destiny from hell to heaven; but He lifts us up! An ethical change happens in Regeneration. Jesus came to save us FROM our sins, not to save us IN our sins! (Matthew 1:25). They are teaching something strange about the atonement of Christ and Conversion; namely the nonsense that “sin” is what gets Converted so it no longer damns, instead of the Biblical idea that the Sinner gets Converted so they no longer sin through the power of Christ which is able to keep them from falling! Show me, where is sin ever stated to be the object of Conversion in the Bible!
“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned… when a wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” (Ezek. 18:24-28). We can refuse to believe it. We can revise it so it allows for the sin we refuse to repent of; but that does not change the fact of God’s attitude and future judgment for that sin. Many will dodge the obvious with all kinds of theological gymnastics, but their self-delusions will not excuse them at the Judgment. Contrary to what many believe, this does not change God’s mind about sin! Sin has its wages; it always damns, it always separates one from God. It cannot be hid or evaded. Sin separates the soul from God is the clear teaching of the Bible throughout.
Now for the passage that all Antinomians hate and pathetically try to twist their way out of, Hebrews 10:26-31.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Antinomians refuse to accept the plain meaning of this passage since it undoes their unbiblical theory! Does sin matter after we are saved? Yes! Look at the passage and notice that it is written about and to those that “were sanctified,” a term never used for anything other than a genuine Christian!
For if we sin [Present Tense Greek, while we keep on sinning] willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins… This is important to note that the writer speaks of someone who not only willfully sins, but continues to do so now. It is an unrepentant state, a state of unbelief. He tells us plainly that for such a one, there remains no more sacrifice for their sins. Our Antinomian proponents write me and say that this passage is about assurance! They say that “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” is a positive statement, meaning that this warning is really no warning at all because since Jesus died on the Cross, no more sacrifices for sin are necessary. This is without a doubt, eisegesis at its worst! The writer is not speaking of a general fact about the atonement of Christ that applies to every person living, but to the one who was a Christian and is now presently sinning willfully! There is no more sacrifice for sins for them! The writer immediately tells us what the absence of a sacrifice for sins results in… a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries… Wow! According to our Antinomian “gospel,” the writer of the Book of Hebrews should have said, “God is going to take your rewards away from you, but will save you! This is idiotic! The passage says nothing of rewards burned, but what it does say is, these people will suffer a certain fiery judgment of indignation that God reserves for the worst of the worst, to include the devil and any of God’s adversaries! Nothing could be plainer! To emphasize this we are told, “how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10: 26-29). “As long as we are spurning that remedy we have no hope of recovery… but every backslider has the gracious promise of Isa. 55:7; “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Those who walk away from the truth are not "sinning saints," or other cute phrases, but the Bible calls them adversaries!
The important point to notice is that those who have received knowledge of the truth have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant may go back to willful sin, in which case they separate themselves from the redeeming grace of the Lord Jesus. To say this refers to those who are not real Christians is to handle the Word of God deceitfully.
The Antinomian explanation of these passages is so patently absurd and desperate, that if I were them I would just evade it altogether instead of embarrassing myself as they do by claiming to give a "Biblical exposition." It is obvious that they have nothing more than unbiblical bias and dogmatic propaganda for an answer! It is deceit and not exposition!
When the idol of their Diana is in danger, they must raise dust, and make noise to divert the attention of the reader from the actual point of the passage. That is the best that they can do.
Paul says, that “God shall judge the secrets of men, according to his Gospel.” Peter asks, “What shall be the end of those who obey not the Gospel of God?” and the apostle answers, “Christ, revealed in flaming fire, will take vengeance on them who obey not the Gospel,” that is, all the ungodly who “receive the grace of God in vain, or turn it into lasciviousness.” They do not perish because the Gospel is a lie with respect to them, but “because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” God, to punish their rejecting the truth, permits that they should believe a lie; “that they all might be damned, who, to the last hour of their day of grace, believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” [Fletcher]
John’s Gospel, eighth chapter, verses thirty-four to thirty-six inclusive. Jesus answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever, but the Son abideth ever. If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed .” If this is true, and you commit sin, you are not God’s children but servants of sin, for, “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom. 6:16). You cannot serve sin and righteousness, God and the devil, or heaven and hell, at the same time. The line must be drawn, discrimination made, and we must either be Christians and abstain from sin, or sinners and indulge in sin.”
John writes in his First Epistle, “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not.” (Gk, a singular act of sin.) (2:1). “And if any man sin” (not “when”). (2:1).., “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (2:4). “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” (2:10). “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” (3:6). “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” (3: 8). “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;” (3:9). Notice that this does not speak of maturity, advanced sanctification, education, etc., it speaks of the grace to not sin occurring at the New-Birth. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (3:7). “For whatsoever is born of God overcommeth the world: and this is the victory that overcommeth the world, even our faith.” (5:4). “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not.” (5:18). “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” (1:6). John says point blank that sinning, or walking in the darkness was incompatible with being a Christian. He says so at least 5 times throughout his First Epistle.
Titus 1:16 states: "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
How can this passage not apply to the Antinomian? If not in practice, it must certainly do so in doctrine!
Will you believe that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and to save us from our sins? (1 Jn. 3:8, Matt. 1:21). That he who sins is of the devil? (1 Jn. 3:9-10). That we are commanded, "Be ye holy, for I am holy"; not, try to be holy? (1 Peter 1:15,16). That John believed this when he wrote, "My little children, I write these things unto you that you may not sin. (Gk. One time!)? (1 Jn. 2:1). Will you believe the Bible when it says, "if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."? (Romans 8:13). Do you see that even with inflation, "the wages of sin is death"? (Rom. 6:23). God said that sin always brings death when He told Adam and Eve, "In the day you eat thereof, ye shall surely die!" Or will you choose to be in poor company by siding with the devil, chanting his soul-damning lie, "Surely, you shall not die"? May I remind you, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16). “For sin shall not have dominion over you… (Rom. 6:14). Paul, writing to true believers, Born-Again Christians, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
The Antinomian contends for the fruitless faith of devils, and substitutes it for genuine, fruitful, transforming and sanctifying faith, which the Bible says will always be evidenced by works. [see James 2:14-20]. But the book of James is something that they must commit exegetical fraud and distortion with in order to rescue their failed doctrine! It would be easier if they just ripped these pages out of their Bibles too, as they seem to do with so many others! By their insane twisting and turnings of the plain statements of James, they attempt to deceive us into their fruitless unsaving faith! If James teaches the Antinomian "gospel," then we cannot learn anything from Scripture, because they have rendered Biblical language to be impossibly meaningless!
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34
"How few of our celebrated pulpits are there, where more has not been said at times for sin than against it?" - John Fletcher
"It is manifestly improper to speak of a believer who sees nothing desirable in holiness. A man who can say, "I have no desire to be holy," cannot be a true experimental believer in Christ." - Jesse T. Peck
The Antinomian Creed
By John Fletcher
"There is no condemnation to them" whether they "walk after the Spirit!" in love, or "after the flesh" in malice; whether they "forsake all" to follow Christ, or like Judas and Sapphira "keep back part" of what should be the Lord's without reserve. Thousands boldly profess justifying faith, and perhaps eternal justification, who reverence the commandments of God just as much as they regard the scriptures quoted in Mr. Wesley's Minutes.
Upon their doctrinal systems they raise a tower of presumption, whence they bid defiance both to the law and Gospel of Jesus. His law says, "Love God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself, that thou mayest live" in glory. "If thou wilt enter into the life" (of glory,) "keep the commandments." But this raises their pity, instead of commanding their respect, and exciting their diligence. "Moses is buried," they say; "we have nothing to do with the law! We are not under the law to Christ! Jesus is not a Lawgiver to control, but a redeemer to save us."
The Gospel cries to them," Repent and believe!" (Mark 1:15,) and just as if God was to be the penitent, believing sinner, they carelessly reply, "The Lord must do all; repentance and faith are His works, and they will be done in the day of His power; and so without resistance they decently follow the stream of worldly vanities and fleshly lusts.
St. Paul cries, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die." (Rom. 1:13,) "We know better," answer they "there are neither ifs nor conditions in all the Gospel." He adds, "This one thing I do, leaving the things that are behind, I press toward the mark for the prize of my high calling in Christ Jesus-the crown of life. Be ye followers of me. Run also the race that is set before you." "What! say they, "would you have us run and work for life? Will you always harp upon that legal string, Do! do! instead of telling us that we have nothing to do, but to believe that all is done?"
St. James cries, "Show your faith by your works; faith without works is dead already, (James 2:26,) much more that which is accompanied by bad works." "What!" say they, "do you think the lamp of faith can be put out as a candle can be extinguished, by not being suffered to shine? We orthodox hold just the contrary: we maintain both that faith can never die, and that living faith is consistent not only with the omission of good works, but with the commission of the most horrid crimes."
St. Peter bids them "give all diligence to make their election sure, by adding to their faith virtue," etc. (2 Pet. 1:10,) "Legal stuff!" say they, "The covenant is well ordered in all things sure: neither will our virtue save us, nor our sins damn us."
St. John comes next, and declares, "He that sinneth is of the devil." (1 Jn. 3:8,) "What! say they, "do you think to make us converts to Arminianism, by thus insinuating that a man can be a child of God today, and a child of the devil tomorrow?"
St. Jude advances last, and charges them to, "keep themselves in the love of God;" (Jude 21,) and they supinely reply, "We can do nothing." Beside, "We are as easy and as safe without a frame as with one."
With the seven-fold shield of the Antinomian faith they could fight the twelve apostles round, and come off, in their own imagination, more than conquerors. Nay, were Christ himself to come to them incognito, as he did to the disciples that went to Emmaus, and say, "Be ye perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect:" it would be well if, while they measured from head to foot with looks of pity or surprise, some were not bold enough to say with a sneer, "You are a perfectionist, it seems, a follower of poor John Wesley! are you? For our part, we are for Christ and free grace, but John Wesley and you are for perfection and free will."
It is evident that the Antinomian only uses Scripture as a drunk uses a light-post; for support, and not for enlightenment! If the round peg of Scripture truth does not fit the square hole of the Antinomian “gospel,” it is hammered and distorted beyond all recognition until they can “somehow” fit it into their evil scheme.
“and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." (NASB) Romans 1:32
This is undoubtedly applicable to the Antinomian! They draw together like flies, and heartily excuse the unregenerate and claim them saved in spite of their willful sinning, and in unison, condemn to the deepest depths of Hell those who walk in the light as He is in the light, touting the worn and unfounded mantra that if we do “anything,” even obey Christ, we must be lost Legalists!
Conditions exist in the Bible; that is a fact! We do not just ignore them, but we must believe them! But none of these conditions say or imply that they "merit" salvation with God! Yet salvation cannot be said to exist without them. Conditions are not the Boogey-man! Look at this example:
A radio station calls you up and says, "We have chosen you for a free trip to Jamaica on July 12th of this year, and you accept the gift. Now, did you "earn" the Jamaica trip by accepting it? Is going to the airport and getting on the plane to Jamaica "earning" the trip? Is being on the plane before the July 12th deadline a meritorious work or earning the trip? Do you return home and brag how you "earned" a trip to Jamaica by being on time, going to the airport and getting on a plane? People would look at you like you were crazy if you argued such a thing! Yet Antinomians do the same thing to all the conditions of Scripture, and condemn the honest Christian to Hell for saying that they are wrong!
Being faithful, and producing fruit as Christ works in and through us, is not merit! God no more repents for us than He believes for us, yet God commands both faith and repentance! There are conditions to the Gospel, the Antinomian just throws them out calling them heresy!
THE INADEQUATE CHRIST- THE CHRIST OF LEGALISM
There are actually those who through their actions, have fallen from grace. They have rejected grace by adding certain works to the true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith. They add baptism, or being good, social work, and even faith in a doctrine, such as Calvinism or Eternal Security to the Gospel, and replace faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, with their false "gospel"! Those that are Antinomian generally accuse anyone that accepts that a faithful present tense obedient faith is God’s revealed condition for salvation, as somehow being lost and going to Hell! They falsely call Biblical obedience and faith to be a “works salvation.” There is a vast difference between legalism, which is an effort to “earn” salvation or “add” to grace, and being a believer that love and obeys God, and works because God is working in and through them! The later would never view or claim that they were going to heaven for any other reason than the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Legalism is a sin; it is every bit as damning as License! Many Legalists I know are “good” people in the worldly use of the term, but they are without grace. They do not seem to understand that by adding to grace, they are denying grace. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:16, and “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ dies in vain.
What are you trusting in for your salvation? Ask yourself, if you were to die today and face God at the Judgment Seat, and He was to ask you why you should be admitted to His Heaven, what would you say? If your answer has anything to do with Church attendance, tithing, how wet you got when you were baptized, or that you believe Eternal Security, then you have fallen from grace, and you will not be entering in! The only acceptable answer is what Jesus did for us upon the Cross; that is our only hope.
Take a hard look at the book of Galatians, which was written to address this problem within the Church. Well-meaning people throughout history have become passionate about many things, and were even concerned about not being ungrateful towards God by encouraging or excusing sin. Yet, in their passion they had crossed the line. Their pet doctrines became a standard of who was saved and who was not. They trusted in something in addition to the grace of Christ, which would be telling Jesus that they did not believe that His atonement was adequate, but must be improved upon in some way. What a slap in the face to Jesus Christ who did it all! You see, we can be in unbelief by saying that the Cross was not good enough to save us, and we can show our unbelief by sinning and presuming upon the grace of God like the Antinomian. Legalism is unbelief in the grace of God!
“Christ has become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you who are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4).
“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now make perfect by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3).
FINDING THE TRUE JESUS OF THE BIBLE
It would be illogical to say that in order to find the “TRUE” Christ of the Bible, all we have to do is split the difference between the extremes. Bible truth is never founded on the premise of moderation or finding a via media. Many attempt to do this, believing that they find truth this way. Truth is truth whether it is in the middle, or at the extremes.
I would assert that the Christ of the Bible is an ethical Christ, and is also true that the Bible states that the death of Christ is adequate and needs no outside help to save a person. The truth is in this case, not at either extreme, but is actually absent in these extremes. Grace must take into account our ignorance and humanity to a degree. It is doubtful that any individual would know with absolute perfection and accuracy, everything there is to know about the “true” Jesus Christ. The Bible draws a line to the north and to the south, and if we cross these well-defined lines, we have left the latitude of the Gospel. Somewhere in-between legalism and antinomianism, is the Christ of the Bible. This leaves room for those within the lines, some space and freedom for friendly disagreement and debate without rejecting each other as heretics.
John 15:4-6, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: For without me ye can do nothing." Salvation and fruit bearing are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other. If we are saved, we must bear fruit because we are in the vine. If we do not produce good works, it is only evidence that we are not one of His! The works we do are accomplished from the fact that Christ is working them through us. He is the sap and energy of our spiritual life. We have a part in this work, but since our hearts have been changed to do them with a right motive through regeneration, God generously gives us rewards for what he produces through us. The continuance in faith, or the works that are a product of this faith, is not in any way earning salvation through works. There is no merit in casting ourselves upon the mercy of God as sinners who are without any hope of earning our salvation.
John Fletcher stated, “We are not to do good works to obtain heaven by them, [as if they were the properly meritorious cause of our salvation.] This proud, antichristian motive would poison the best doings of the greatest saints, if saints could thus trample on the blood of their Savior: such a wild conceit being only the Pharisee’s cleaner way to hell. But we are to do them because they shall be rewarded in heaven.” “Penitent believers freely receive all from the God of grace and mercy, through Christ; and humble workers freely return all to the God of holiness and glory, through the same adorable Mediator.”
You will note that I have not lumped all Eternal Securists and Calvinists into the category of Antinomian. Many believers who hold to these doctrines live a life of obedient faith, and are disgusted at those who would use their doctrines to promote rank antinomianism in practice. But as we have seen, today in this world, there really exists a segment in our Churches that preaches rank antinomianism, and damns anyone who does not fall in the ditch of error with them, as “evil,” “satanic,” “work salvationist's,” and “going to Hell.”
This heretical segment is very energetic, and while most Antinomians I have met are going to Churches that would disagree with them, Antinomians choose to promote their propaganda through the use of deceit and subversion from within, attempting to break down their Churches, one person at a time. For some reason their Antinomian heresy is tolerated, and they are not asked to leave. Perhaps it is because they believe the same un-Biblical doctrines of Eternal Security, Imputed Righteousness of Christ, and sins paid for, past, present, and future, which the Antinomian only takes to their logical antinomian end. How can you argue with such irrefutable consistency? The pastor's of such Churches sheepishly avoid doing anything about it, because they see that it would seem unbiblical to do so. Following the doctrine of Eternal Security to its inevitable conclusion, one must see that there is virtually no light between speculative Antinomianism and practical Eternal Security.
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard…(Col.1:21-23).
Here, the Antinomian and the Legalist alike are addressed, based upon the True Gospel, and the True Jesus.
“But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. That being justified by grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works..” (Titus 3:4-8).
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-14).
In Scripture, works as the fruit of salvation are not treated as “filthy rags” or “earning salvation. It is God’s will to purify his people so that they live ethical holy lives IN THIS PRESENT WORLD. So many put this off and say that it is only possible somewhere in the future and after death. God says that He expects it now. There is no hope in an Antinomian “gospel” or a Legal “gospel,” Both Antinomianism and Legalism plagued the Early Church, and both were soundly condemned; yet we still have these elements with us today. We no longer have an excuse to be beholden to either one of these sins. It is clear that the true Gospel is designed to save us from our sins, and is transforming and powerful, and genuine faith continues and is fruitful unto good works. It is also plain that we cannot add a requirement to the atonement of Christ without subtracting Christ from it.
My friends, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” and "keep yourselves in the love of God" (Heb. 12:14); (Jude 21).