The Authority of God’s Law Today

Antinomianism – 1. lawlessness, 2. in theology, it is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality as presented by religious authorities or by the religion’s holy book.

Josiah Reading the Newly Found Book of the Law

The manner in which the Old Testament speaks to New Testament ethics is a object of great dispute in the Reformed world. It would frankly be a waste of time for this post to honestly become involved in unpacking how the Law is handled in different contexts within Christendom. That is why I would like to focus on the charge, made by both some in the Reformed camp themselves and by those outside who condemn Justification by Faith Alone as being anathema to the vision of James, ergo “Faith Without Works is Dead”. Those who do make this charge within the Reformed world often are members of the heterodox New Perspectives and/or the Federal Vision theologies which make the charge that those of us who hold to the Biblical understanding of Justification allow for a faith that denies the necessary nature of our own works in justification. As opposed to the traditional and orthodox belief that Christ’s Active Obedience to the Law (both its positive and negative declarations) during his earthly life is/was imputed to us in order that we might be saved from God’s wrath. Jesus thereby fulfilled the Covenant of Works and received the covenant blessings that result from this Active Obedience. Through the Covenant of Grace we partake in this (both active and passive sense) Christ is our substitutional covenant head, we are subsumed under Christ’s reign as his sheep and are saved by His righteousness alone and his advocation for us at the throne of judgment.

But what does this all have to do with the authority of God’s Law today?

We as members of the “New” Covenant of Grace are now no longer held under condemnation by the Law but are free to follow its precepts. Simply put Paul in Romans 6 begins by saying, “May be continue in sin that Grace may abound? May it never be!” continuing his discussion in chapter 5 on the benefits of this union with Christ, in other words the results of our justification which closes with:

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as (sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” — Romans 5:20-21

So what is the Law then? Paul in Romans 3:20b & 7:7 says:

…for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”… “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”

So the Law not only acts as a convicting agent but also as a moral guide for how the born Christian is to live under the New Covenant. The curse of the Law has been removed so we could now follow the Law as an act of obedience. However we must be clear to say it i not our obedience that saves but as Martin Luther is reported as remarking Good Works does not a righteous man make but a righteous man will not fail to do Good Works. Westminster Larger Catechism question # 24 defines sin as “…any want or conformity unto, transgression of any Law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.” and Question # 91 defines the duty of man to the Law as “…obedience to the revealed will [of God].”

Now what is this “revealed will” to which if we transgress it is seen as a disobedient act towards the Holy person of God?

Well that will be the purpose of tomorrow’s post. See you then.

A Few Words From Ian Paisley on the Pastorate

…And I want to tell you, brethren, when you go to a little country town to start a church
you let people know you are against something. You let them know you haven’t come as a sob voiced sissy to be another pulpit ornament two times on Sunday, that you are not a soft pedaling, fence straddling cream puff pie preacher, that you are a man of God with fire in your belly and you are going to preach the Word with power. The pulpit, brethren, is a throne and kings sit upon the throne. And every time you get into your pulpit—it may be a small, little pulpit in a small little church—but, thank God, you are a king and you are going to preach the King’s Word, hallelujah! And it does something. It shakes the place. It’s the Bible. That’s what Luther had. He just had a Bible, but he gave the pope spiritual rickets and the pope has been suffering from them ever since. Yes. You have got the Bible, the Word and the Spirit…

…Thank God we can call in the Lord. It’s a great thing to be able to call in the Lord when you are having a rough time, bring the Lord in. He will handle the apostates all right, yes, the great champion of the cross, Emmanuel, victor. He is able to deal with all apostates. So you have a preview. Then you have in this great passage, this epistle, the program of fundamentalists. And I want to tell you that evangelism is not the first in the program. I want you to get that. Oh, there is evangelism in the program and don’t misunderstand me.
I am an evangelist. I am preaching evangelistic campaigns all the time and I believe in soul winning with all my heart and soul and a preacher that doesn’t win souls get rid of him. He’s no use. That’s right. If I was in a shop selling books and I never sold one you wouldn’t keep me. They’d say, “Get him out. He’s no good. He can’t sell.” And a preacher that doesn’t win souls, he is no use. You have to win souls for the Lord. And I
want to tell you God will give you souls for your hire. He will give you souls for your hire.

But you ever remember this, young man, that you bring forth your fruit in season and every period in the Church is not a revival period. Every season is not a revival season. It’s easy, you know, to be on fire for God and praise the Lord when revival is on and people are getting saved. But old Habakkuk said, “When there is no oxen in the stall, when there is no food in the larder, when there is no harvest in the field, I will rejoice in
the God of my salvation.”12 And until you learn that you will never be a true man or woman of God. To put your rejoicing… You remember they came home and they told the Lord about the great mission that they
had, the campaign they had and the devils were subject to them and the Lord said, “Don’t rejoice because you have been successful. Rejoice because you are saved, your name is written heaven.” Oh, you will have a hard time at time. The sun will not shine. There will be dark nights you will have to go through with the Lord…

…It hasn’t come toour country, but we have a fundamentalism that has deteriorated here in the United States of America where the Church is trying to win an ear for the gospel with things that are polluted. And I want to say that to you today. Young man, there is only one way to build a church. It is with that book. That is all I have got. I have no gimmicks. I have nothing. But let me tell you I have a book and that book will build a church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And you are not called. Young man, let me say this to you. You are not called to be, first of all, an organizer and, secondly, to be a manager and, thirdly, to be a promoter. You are called to be a preacher. That is what you are called to be, a preacher. And you go and preach it. And you say, “Well, if I don’t have…” Listen. You don’t need anything. You get on fire in the pulpit and people will come out to see you burn. They will say, “There is a fire up the road. Come on out.”…

From “Fundamentalism vs. Apostasy” by Rev. Dr. Ian K. Paisley