Summary: This article was written and published July ’14. The next two articles deal with a doctrinal error in Protestant teachings known as “the active obedience of Christ” – that Jesus vicariously accomplished and fulfilled the law of Moses for every Christian, resulting in the righteousness of God being given to the believer as a legal, judicial righteousness and as a consequence of the life Christ lived out in the flesh before the event of the cross. The bottom line is that this is not the true gospel, but rather a different gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). And this is a serious charge against those who hold this doctrine as truth. These two articles use a lot of scripture in order to prove the points I make, so please be prepared to study and concentrate if you go on to read them. Nothing is too difficult for the believer to understand. You just may need to re-read a few times to better comprehend important points.
We all (teachers and theologians) have the tendency, in getting hold of some truth, to pursue our own reasonings on it. In divine things all too often we have thoughts in which there may easily be some error or flaw, some obvious text forgotten that would show the contradiction, or with which the drawn conclusions are in disagreement. It becomes essential to review all one’s assertions and statements, and compare them with the word of God. We should always search God’s word to understand, in our measure, all its teaching on any point. It is then we may be guarded against any self-drawn conclusions which may, more or less, swerve us from God’s truth (John 17:17).
Conclusions are never the same thing as knowing the truth. I may draw many conclusions: They are mostly the assumed consequence of one idea which is implied from another. The truth is what exists in Christ, or is the displaying everything as it is true, by Him (John 8:31-32). The truth is, whereas a conclusion might be true. In the truth I have what is—in a conclusion I have an idea, hopefully, rightly deduced. There is an immense difference, morally speaking. I must be subject to the truth. But with conclusions I must prove, again hopefully, their accuracy and fitness. I say this not to hinder study and research, but to insist on testing by the scriptures all conclusions I may arrive at— which are only man’s conclusions, and must be always judged and corrected by the divine testimony.
If we all were simply willing to bow to God’s word, human reasoning really would not be necessary. Divine teaching is necessary to have our understandings enlightened (Eph. 1:18). But what we should do is simply learn God’s thoughts by the direction of the Spirit of God—not struggling to draw conclusions (I Cor. 2:12-13). However I realize we are not as simple as this. The pleading and reasoning and debating go on unfortunately. I prefer the word “discussions” coupled with the adjectives “brotherly” and “friendly”. But if these are carried on in the spirit of grace, and the content continually tested by God’s word, it does elicit truth. It calls for watching ourselves very closely, especially the flow of human thoughts in contrast to the divine. God has determined it to be this way, because of the weakness of our flesh.
There is a convincing of disputers, as well as teaching the truth. We need the Spirit of God for this as for everything else. We have such good examples of this in scripture – Paul, Stephen and others – they had power in confounding the opposers of truth! Discussion and study, if properly pursued, coupled with a passionate love of the truth, are a means of enlarging and deepening our own thoughts to be in line with God’s. The same, in grace and humility, is needed in convincing others; of correcting them also, of perfecting fellow believers as to the truth; rendering them free from such objections which serve to cast doubt on the truth we hold as Christians. Thus the truth and all its consequences are better known as they stand in the divine counsels, and the teaching is recognized as coming from God. This, I pray, is my heart attitude in writing these two articles about legal righteousness (Post #2 and 3). The need for correction is great. The error multiplies on itself, and unbiblical conclusions are drawn and taught. I hope none of my words are held as harsh or rude. I hope my words spring forth from a passionate love of God’s truth, and a godly desire for His truth to be known.
I have searched the scriptures to learn what the Spirit teaches on righteousness, especially as to the righteousness of God. I believe in my heart I have done so sincerely. With increasing clarity of understanding I believe the teaching I present here in these two articles (Post #2 and 3) to be the doctrine of scripture as the Spirit would have the believer to hold. What is presented will be in direct opposition to the error we will examine. My search of God’s word on this topic has made me feel more deeply than ever that the ground on which legal righteousness from the law rests is simply false. The root of this error lies deep. When what they teach is carefully searched, or, as I attempt to do here, extensively unfolded, the error is worse than it at first appears. Many traditional errors are like this – held without seeing all it implies. The path it takes you down is little understood. The end result is not grasped. I do not say that all who teach this error fully understand all the implied consequences; thus they should not be charged so severely. But we are justified in exposing the error, and showing it to its full results.