Are we ever more in danger of teaching an error, than when we are combatting one? For when a teacher has the ‘antinomians’ in his sights, I find he often becomes a proponent of increased endeavour, talking of the ‘necessities’ required in a ‘holy’ life, instead of rather the holy inevitabilities to be expected in the regenerate.
He talks about the necessity of obeying God’s Word, instead of the inevitability, in the truly regenerate, of living it. ‘Only holiness brings full joy’, one says. But isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Isn’t it rather; ‘Only joy (in believing), brings genuine holiness’?
Observe how the noted theologian quoted below takes verses of Scripture that describe the intention and purpose of the sovereign God, and render them as being contingent, and thereby provisional, and thereby uncertain, contingent upon the required actions of Man.
The New Testament tells us that we were chosen, redeemed, and called to be holy. The Father "chose us in him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight" (Eph. 1:4). "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy... to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:25- 27). "It is God's will that you should be holy.... God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life" (1 Thess. 4:3,7).
But who is the prime mover here? God is! Has the antinomian heresy turned a Calvinist theologian into an Arminian one?! He so quickly forgets that life does not manifest itself because of requirements imposed upon it, but life manifests that life-principle which has been implanted within, by its creator.
Sanctification is not an option, but an integral part of the salvation package, just as the repentance and consecration that lead into the pursuit of holiness are integral to the response for which the gospel calls. God's plan is to save us from sin, not in sin; therefore the need for holiness must be acknowledged and accepted.
Sanctification is indeed an integral part of the ‘salvation package’, but are praise for some parts of the “package” to be due to God, and some parts due to Man?
The necessity of holiness follows from the revealed conditions of assurance. No one has a right to believe that they are partakers of God's salvation unless they walk the path of conscious, purposeful obedience and service to God. In 2 Peter 1:3-11 we learn that progress in sanctification is the only way to make one's calling and election sure (that is, to make certain of it).
Again, our antinomian antagonist rushes to turn what is the ‘election according to grace’ into an election according to the required conditions! The verses he quotes do not show us how to ensure our election, but reveal what fruit shall indubitably be found in the elect. The inevitable fruits of regeneration are enumerated in Scripture as encouragements to some, and warnings to others.
Isaiah’s words (61:1-3) are just so evocative of our deliverance from the guilt and imprisonment of the law, into the joy of the new fruitful life God has created within us.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison, to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
The Lord Jesus came to perform these promises, He said, and here is wonderfully revealed not merely His purpose, but also His method, which method is, He has made us His planting. He has planted us as ‘trees of righteousness’, and just as an apple seed will surely produce an apple tree, so surely will those He has planted in righteousness, grow into trees of righteousness, leading to the eternal glorifying of His name. There are no requirements demanded of Man here. Here is the sovereign purpose, and certain joy of God.
“Who has first given to Him, And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things, to whom, be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:35-36)
LORD, You will establish peace for us, For You have done all our works in us. (Isaiah 26:12)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory. (Psalm 115:1)
This article was written by AFJ, a retired pastor who is still serving God in his part of the world. One day, AFJ found this website on the Internet and we became great friends due to our common understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ. This article is really an entire email that AFJ sent me perhaps as an affirmation of my writings so I won’t lose heart in this endeavor. Thank you brother AFJ. I have learned much from you.
- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen
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