Preachers who are never charged with the accusation of being antinomian are probably false gospel preachers. What is an antinomian? Why is this accusation a good sign for a preacher?
Antinomianism is simply licentiousness. It means that someone is advocating a sinful lifestyle, one that is contrary to the Law of God. This pastor or preacher will advocate sin, in the name of freedom.
Today, it is common for Christian preachers to affirm the LGBTQ movement. They embrace the Universalist/Arminian idea that God loves everyone without exception nor condition…and without responsibility on the part of sinners. In essence, they are saying, “Christ died for everyone, demonstrating God’s love for everyone…just as they are in their sinful lifestyles.” It might be an exaggeration to say they would confess those lifestyles to be sinful.
The confusion arises when a true preacher proclaims the true Gospel. The true Gospel of grace claims that God is saving His people entirely by grace (Eph 2:8–9). The elect, other than being objects of God’s love, mercy, and grace, contribute nothing to their salvation. This is glorious for him who understands. God is the Savior (Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:4–6), who saves, and He does it all by His gracious work.
Far more common and familiar is the preaching of moralistic religion, posing as Christianity. Their simple message is, “Obey God and He will bless you,” or, “Obey God, do good works, and He will save you.” The Arminian simplifies this to one singular act of obedience, “Make your free will decision to accept Jesus as your Savior…choose Christ!” This one good work is God’s one condition for the New Covenant, according to the Arminian.
The Christian Gospel preacher calls Arminianism a heresy, for its return to the Roman Catholic heresy of good works required for salvation. The Arminian and Roman Catholic may retort, “Ok, Christian, then what must I do to be saved?” The correct answer is, “nothing.” If God has decreed one’s salvation, that person has been appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48). God will send His Holy Spirit to baptize (enter) and indwell God’s chosen one (Mt 3:11; Acts 2:38; 11:16; Rom 8:9, 11). This act of regeneration is purely a work of God’s Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3), not conditioned by anything in that person.
The Arminian and the Roman Catholic smile at one another, at the Christian’s reply to their question, “So you are saying that a person can live however she wants and God will save her?” The Christian must reply to this affirmatively. Thus, he opens himself up to the charge of antinomianism. This is good. The Christian has truly represented the Gospel of grace, over and against the Arminian and Roman Catholic gospel of works. He must further explain why their charge and accusation of antinomianism is not correct, however.
God chose His elect people before Creation (Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4–5). Jesus Christ redeemed and atoned for God’s elect people on the cross (Lev 16; Rom 5:8; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 2:24). The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, to apply the merits of Christ’s death to His elect people (Jn 14:26; 15:26), at the appointed time in their lives. They were dead in trespasses and sins of diverse kinds…not good people doing good works (Eph 2:1–3; Rom 3:10–12).
Every aspect, of God’s saving His people from their sins and His wrath against them, is a work of God, not the unjust sinner. Because it is all a work of God, it is called, “grace.” God’s adopted children are saved by grace, not by anything they willed or did. Salvation is God’s will, not man’s (Jn 1:12–13). Salvation is God’s choice, not man’s (Jn 15:16; Rom 11:5).
The Arminian and Roman Catholic charge of antinomianism against the Christian is false because these two groups do not understand the sovereign grace of God unto salvation. Grace elects. Grace atones. Grace applies, makes alive, converts, gifts faith, justifies…and so important, it is grace that sanctifies.
Sanctification is the work of God’s Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2), in causing the regenerated Christian to walk in the statutes of God (Ezek 36:27). This means it is Christ in the Christian (Gal 2:20), who is manifesting obedience to God and His holy Law. It is Christ performing every good work that is performed by the Christian, for apart from Christ, the Christian can do nothing pleasing to God (Jn 15:5).
Christians are not lawless, nor are they advocates of lawlessness. They are not Antinomians. They are also not legalists, trusting in their flesh to perform the works of the Law. Christians are people of grace, who have been graced by God in every aspect of their salvation. They suffer the false charge of being Antinomian, but they know salvation is all grace. The reason they know it is all grace? Grace has revealed it to them (even that is grace!).
Praise God for His holy, good, just, spiritual Law, and praise Him for His grace when we fail to keep the Law…before and after our conversion. He is still at work, and that is grace.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 13, 2022