«Antinomianism: A Modern Heresy, Summarized and Refuted by William D. Pratney Last Updated 07-02-2012 (British Calendar System) Taken and Adapted from ...»
- puriﬁes the heart from sin Love and good works validate ones faith presently and also on the Day of Judgment.
"...show me thy faith without thy works and I will show thee my faith by my works." James 2:18 KJV Common Antinomian Objections to Justiﬁcation by the Fruits of Faith (Love and Good Works) on the Day of Judgment (as Opposed to Justiﬁcation by Faith Only) What this section seeks to address is, following initial justiﬁcation by faith in Christ, how genuine faith is validated by its fruits (love and good works), speciﬁcally on the Day of Judgment, but broadly now in this life. The point of presenting this section is to show the necessity of having the fruits of faith to justiﬁcation, rather than only an empty profession of it.
You could also say it like this: A person is justiﬁed (from their past sins; made righteous;
forgiven by God) by their faith in Jesus Christ. But their faith is validated, shown and demonstrated by their love and good works. Apart from love, good works and obedience to God, what evidence do they have (before Christ as well as His Church) that they possess true justifying faith?
True faith works by love and is evident in good works. Antinomian thinking ﬁghts all real need to evidence true faith by love, good works and obedience.
In ﬁghting against true faith which works by love and is evident in good works, antinomian thinking masquerades as Gospel truth under the following sentiments (seen in bold; each antinomian sentiment is followed by the author's refutation, each of which are largely derived from Fletcher's 2nd Check to Antinomianism: Letter 1: "The Doctrine of a Second Justiﬁcation
by Works Defended" [4G]):
1. I am with the apostle Paul in my belief, determined to know nothing towards justiﬁcation but Christ, and him cruciﬁed.
Instead of setting aside the grace of God for the keeping of the Old Testament laws (which some of the Galatians were guilty of), we must not set aside the eternal law of God contained in the Gospel and fulﬁlled by love by an empty profession of our faith in the cruciﬁed Saviour.
Empty, meaning we by actions deny the very Christ that we profess, railing at His holy doctrine, trampling on his royal proclamations, and disregarding his authoritative word.
Christ says, "By thy words shalt thou be justiﬁed;" and St. Paul declares, "Not the hearers, but the doers of the law [of Christ for New Covenant believers] shall be justiﬁed." Disregarding the commands of God laid forth in scripture in the name of "knowing nothing but Christ, and Him cruciﬁed" will no more justify us than a heathen, whose actions are the same but whose profession is different.
"He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not
in him." 1 John 2:4
2. Asking people to keep God's laws is legalism. It robs God's children of their glorious liberty in Christ, binds Moses' burden to their free shoulders, and forces them to wear a yoke of bondage from which they've been set free.
The heavy yoke of the circumcision and ceremonial bondage, with which the Galatians once entangled themselves, must never be confused with the easy yoke of Jesus Christ, which He asks us to take to ourselves. The former required blood, and was strict and exacting; the latter requires love, and is light and bearable. Christ invites us to take His yoke upon ourselves, in order that we might learn what He is truly like - meek and humble in heart. Only then, after having received His yoke, will we ﬁnd true rest for our souls. They are sons of Belial who shake off the Lord's yoke; and though they should boast of their election as much as the Jews did, Christ himself will say concerning them, "...these enemies of Mine, that did not want Me as their ruler [that refused My yoke], bring them here, and put them to death before Me!" (See Luke 19:27) So inexpressibly dreadful is the end of lawless liberty!
The spirit of Antinomianism represents God's requirements on persons lives as already fulﬁlled and obeyed for them by Christ, and the keeping of God's comandments as "a yoke of bondage."
But the dutiful children of God have come to know these things are not so: they fulﬁll the law
of Christ through:
1. loving obedience to His commandments
2. submission to His requirements on their persons
3. serving one another Their hearts are never so free as when they run the way of his commandments, and by bearing one another's burdens fulﬁll the law of Christ. Keep them from obedience, and you keep them "in the snare of the devil," promising liberty to others, while "they themselves are the servants of corruption."
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." 1 John 2:3 "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments." 2 John 1:6 "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not
grievous." 1 John 5:3
3. Your doctrine is the damnable error of the Galatians, who madly left Mount Zion for Mount Sinai, made Christ the Alpha, and not the Omega, and after "having begun in the Spirit" would be "made perfect by the ﬂesh." This is the other Gospel which St. Paul thought so diametrically contrary to his own, that he wished that the teachers of it, though they were "angels of God," might even be "accursed" and "castrate themselves."
You are under a capital mistake: St. Paul could never be so wild as to curse himself, anathematize St. James, and wish the Messiah to be castrated: for he himself taught the Romans, that 'the doers of the law shall be justiﬁed.' St. James evidently maintains a justiﬁcation by works; and our Lord expressly says, 'By thy words thou shalt be justiﬁed.' Again: the apostle, if he had foreseen how his Epistle to the Galatians would be abused to Antinomian purposes, gives us in it the most powerful antidotes against that poison.
Take three instances.
1. He exhorts his fallen converts to the fulﬁlling of all the law:
"By love serve one another," says he, "for all the law is fulﬁlled in this one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Galatians 5:13-14) How different is this doctrine from the bold Antinomian cry, "We have nothing to do with the law!"
2. He warns them and reminds them not to practice the works of the ﬂesh:
"I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21) He gives quite a large list of examples, just in case anyone is unclear as to what the "works of the ﬂesh" are: fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, wrath, contention, dissention, heresy, envy, drunkenness, revelling, "and things like these." So people that practice sinful things such as he listed will not be justiﬁed in the day of judgment, or, which is the same thing, "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
"How different a Gospel is this from that which insinuates, 'impenitent adulterers may be dear children of God, even while such, and in a very safe state, and quite sure of glory!'" (4G)
3. He reminds them that the law of sowing and reaping applies to their actions, warning
them against deception:
"Don't be deceived!" "the person* who sows to the ﬂesh shall reap ruin from the ﬂesh, but the person who sows to the Spirit shall reap life everlasting from the Spirit." (see Galatians 6:7-8) * note that it is the person (not CHRIST) that both sows and reaps a harvest from the same.
This epistle, then, can not be used to:
1. Disregard the necessity for love and good works
2. Denigrate loving action and practical service as necessary for fulﬁlling the law of God
3. Justify those that practice the works of the ﬂesh
4. Say that the Gospel is opposed to the law of God "What doth it proﬁt, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" James 2:14
4. I am persuaded you are in the dreadful heresy of the Galatians; for they were, like you, for "justiﬁcation by the works of the law;" and St. Paul resolutely maintained against them the fundamental doctrine of justiﬁcation by faith.
If you once read over the Epistle to the Galatians without prejudice, and without comment, you will see, that
1. They had returned to the "beggarly elements" of the law of Moses, by superstitiously starting again to "observe days, months, times, and years."
2. Imagining they "could not be saved except they were circumcised," they submitted even to that grievous and bloody injunction.
3. Exact in their useless ceremonies, and fondly hoping to be justiﬁed by their partial observance of Moses' law, they almost forgot the merits of Christ, and openly trampled upon his law, and "walked after the ﬂesh."
In short, they trusted partly in the merit of their superstitious performances, and partly in Christ's merits; and on this preposterous foundation they "built the hay" of Jewish ceremonies, and "the stubble" of ﬂeshly lusts. With great propriety, therefore, the apostle called them back, with sharpness, to the only sure foundation, the merits of Jesus Christ; and wanted them to "build upon this foundation gold, silver and precious stones," all the works of piety and mercy that spring from "faith working by love."
Furthermore, "the law" being spoken of was not just any unspeciﬁed law...it was not, for instance the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), nor the law of the land (1 Peter 2:13-14), but it was the law of Moses (the Old Covenant).
"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is
righteous." 1 John 3:7
5. Your Pharisaic doctrine ﬂatly contradicts the Gospel summed up by our Lord, "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16) Here is not one word about works. All turns upon faith.
"We steadily assert, as our Lord, that 'he who believeth,' or 'endureth unto the end believing,' (for the word implies both the reality and the continuance of the action,) 'shall infallibly be saved;' because faith, which continues living, 'works' to the last 'by love' and good works, which will infallibly justify us in the day of judgment." (4G)
For when faith is no more, love and good works will evidence:
1. That we were grafted into Christ by true faith
2. That we did not make shipwreck of the faith; that we were not taken away as branches in him which did not bear fruit, but abode fruitful branches in the true Vine.
3. That we are still in him by HOLY LOVE, the precious and eternal fruit of true persevering faith.
(John 15:1-2, 4-6; Romans 11:18-22; Revelation 14:13 ["...and their works do follow them."]) It is worthwhile to note that we are brought to love and good works by faith. Faith is, therefore, the starting point, and not the end of our lives in God.
6. Your doctrine exalts man, and by giving him room to boast, robs Christ of the glory of his grace. "The top stone" is no more "brought forth with shouting, Grace! Grace!" but, Works! Works! "unto it!" And the burden of the song in heaven will be, Salvation to our works! and no more, Salvation to the Lamb!
I no less approve your godly jealousy, than I wonder at your groundless fears. To calm them, permit me to point out that this doctrine is Christ's, who would not be so unwise as to side with our self-righteous pride, and teach us to rob him of his own glory.
"The love and good works by which we shall be justiﬁed in the day of judgment, are the fruits of faith...Christ is the great object of faith, [and] the Holy Ghost, called the Spirit of faith, the power of believing, the means, opportunities, and will to use that power, are all the rich presents of God's free grace. All our sins, together with the imperfections of our works, are mercifully forgiven through the blood and righteousness of Christ: our persons and services are graciously accepted merely for his sake, and through his merits: and if rewards are granted us according to the fruits of righteousness we bear, it is...because the meritorious sap of the Root of David produces those fruits, and the meritorious beams of the Sun of righteousness ripen them." (4G) Thus you see, that, which ever way you look at our justiﬁcation, God has all the glory of it, but that of turning moral agents into mere machines, God does no more claim than you do that of turning your servants into puppets. If faith on earth gives Christ the glory of all our salvation, you need not fear that love (a superior grace) will rob him in heaven: for 'love is not puffed up, does not seek her own, and does not behave herself unseemly' toward a beggar on earth;
much less will she do so toward the Lord of glory, when she has attained the zenith of heavenly perfection.
In a nutshell, justiﬁcation by faith on Judgment Day, without love and good works–the fruits of true faith–is a misnomer. Without love and good works, what proof do we have that we truly believe? On Judgment Day, when faith has ceased, without love and good works, what proof have we that we believed?
7. How will the converted thief, that did no good works, be justiﬁed by works?
In our Lord's parable of the sheep and the goats, the only difference that is noted between them, is what they did, and didn't do. The thief DID good works*, as there was time and opportunity, evidencing his faith in Christ.
"Can you suppose his inward temper was not love to God and man? Could he go into paradise without being born again? Or could he be born again and not love? Is it not said, 'He that loveth is born of God;' consequently, he that is born of God loveth?" (4G) Does not he who "loves another fulﬁl all the law?" Is not "the fulﬁlling of the law of Christ" work enough to justify the converted thief by that law?
1. Rebuked the scoffer who mocked Jesus (Luke 23:40)
2. Emphasized the importance of fearing God (Luke 23:40)
3. Defended Jesus and His innocence (Luke 23:41)
4. Confessed Christ before men (Luke 23:42 [see Matthew 10:32 and Romans 10:11]) a. By acknowledging Jesus had a kingdom (Luke 23:42) b. Thereby acknowledging His authority or lordship