Facing Down the “Legalist” Label
March 8, 2019
Toby Grater

I cannot tell you how many times I have been accused of being a legalist, and while my brother would insist me a legalist, he makes the claim he is under grace not the “Law” as if grace will allow him to live freely in or out of sin.


The two paragraphs quoted below are from John Colquhoun (Ka-hoon) (1748-1827) “A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel” (1816) ----Republished 2009 Soli Deo Gloria Publications (pg.32).

“The great design of God in giving the law in the hand of Christ to His people is not that by their obedience to it they may procure for themselves a right to eternal life, but that it may direct and oblige them to walk worthy of their union with Christ, of their justification in Him, of their legal title to and begun possession of life eternal, and of God Himself as their God in Him. Their conformity of heart and life to its commands, instead of procuring their title to salvation, is a principle part of their salvation already begun, and a necessary preparation for the consummation of it through eternity. (Hebrews 12:28; 1 Peter 2:9)”

“The law as a rule of life to believers, especially in this view of it, is very different from the law as a covenant of works.  The precept of the law as a covenant is “Do and live,” but the command of the law as a rule is “live and do; the law of works says, “Do or you shall be condemned to die, but the law in the hand of Christ says,  “You are delivered from condemnation; therefore do.”  The command of the former is “Do perfectly that you may have a right to eternal life,” but that of the latter is, “You already have begun possession of eternal life, as well as the promise of the complete possession of it, therefore do in such a manner as to advance daily toward perfection. By the former, a man is commanded to do in his own strength; but by the latter he is required to do in the strength that is in Christ Jesus.  The Lord Jesus says to every believer, “My grace is sufficient for you; My strength is made perfect in weakness; therefore do.”  The commandments of the law, both as covenant and as a rule, are materially but are not formally, the same.”

Upon receiving Jesus through faith, we are “to do”, attempting to keep the law as we work out our salvation.  How much clearer the law and my Christian responsibility has become. 

As we discuss different subject matter, we will be able to position our self with a clear understanding of God’s Law and how we are to apply it so as to keep both grace and duty to the “Law” having some understanding, even as we know the frailty of man’s reasoning, with his poor thinking, seeing through the glass darkly.  

~ Randy Toman, MARS Board of Directors

Article originally appeared on Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society (http://www.thinkandreform.org/).
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