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Friday, October 4, 2013

Law and Grace # 24

Objections, Questions and Problems (continued)

To summarize: In relation to the Christian, the law, as law, having been completely fulfilled and satisfied in Christ, has been "done away". But as law it still remains to operate as an external restraint upon the ungodly. On the other hand, the law, as inspired Scripture, abides for all the saved and as such is "profitable" in all its parts. Only the soul saved by grace, understanding clearly what took place at Calvary, can truly delight in the law of the Lord. Such a one has seen in the Cross the awful severity and doom of the law and rejoices in the assurance that its demands have been satisfied to the last farthing by the Lamb of God.

2. It has also been said that since many professing Christians are not living as they should, the law should be used to remedy this situation. Here we must admit the problem, even while we deplore the situation. Every faithful pastor faces it, often to a degree which is almost heartbreaking. But we also know that the remedy for this shameful condition in the professing church is not to turn from grace back to the method of law. The way of law has already been demonstrated historically as utterly powerless to make men good. "The law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:19). That is why the grace of God was manifested in Christ to do "what the law could not do" (Romans 8:3). The remedy for sin is not more law but more grace. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).

3. If you preach the grace of God for salvation, you will be warned the same may use the doctrine of grace as license to go on sinning. Here again we admit the warning is often based on fact. Even in the early church there were  some who actually had turned "the grace of our God into lasciviousness" (Jude 4). But in the case of such men, the basic trouble was not merely that they had broken the moral law (for in this sense all have sinned), but rather that they were "denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). They were "ungodly men," Jude writes, not saved men at all, "before of old ordained to this condemnation." Distressing as such cases are, it will do no good at all to change our message from grace back to law. Such a retreat can only deepen the disaster. Certainly these high-handed sinners should be warned of their final doom and urged to flee to Christ from the wrath to come. But we as preachers must never forget that the law can neither regenerate men nor make them good. Only the grace of God in Christ can do that.

4. Furthermore, if you preach this gospel of God's grace, you are likely to be charged with antinomianism. But this charge is nothing new in the history of the church. The Apostle Paul himself was accused of the same thing (Romans 3:8). Therefore we need not be too much surprised to meet the same charge today. As a matter of fact, unless you are charged thus sooner or later you are probably not preaching the good news of God's grace as it ought to be preached. For it has been truly pointed out that only the true doctrine of grace can be caricatured as a form of antinomianism. You may be sure you will never be charged with antinomianism as long as you are willing to compromise the message of grace with the smallest modicum of law. But the charge is false when leveled against the preacher of salvation by grace. For in the gospel of salvation by grace alone in Christ we are honoring the law and establishing the law. By His death our Lord Jesus Christ satisfied in full all the law's holy and just demands.

The real antinomians are the legalists, for they either take only one element of the law, or they strip it of its penalties or they soften and relax its demands; to this extent they are against ("anti") the law.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 25)

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