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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « "I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue 3- C. R. Biggs | Main | General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America Update: Federal Vision Study Report »

    "I've Been Reading...": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue 4- C. R. Biggs

    Classes of Legalists

    Are you a legalist when you preach, teach or share the gospel?

    An excellent book by Prof. Dan Doriani teaches how to "put the truth to work" and to faithfully apply Scripture in preaching (How to balance *rightly* the indicative and the imperative in preaching). In order to avoid the pitfalls of legalistic preaching, he explains four classes of legalism into which many preachers unintentionally find themselves.

    The point he makes about "class-four legalists" is that they have the correct teaching, but that they make the correct teaching oppressive without the love of Christ and his fulfillment of the Law as foundational to all of their preaching. This is helpful for preachers, teachers, as well as all Christians when sharing and living the gospel with others.

    Prof. Doriani writes:

    "Class-one legalists are auto-soterists; they declare what one must do in order to obtain God's favor or salvation. The rich young ruler was a class-one legalist.

    Class-two legalists declare what good deeds or spiritual disciplines one must perform to retain God's favor and salvation.

    Class-three legalists love the law so much they create new laws, laws not found in Scripture, and require submission to them. The Pharisees, who build fences around the law, were class-three legalists.

    Class-four legalists avoid these gross errors, but they so accentuate obedience to the law of God that other ideas shrivel up. They reason, 'God has redeemed us at the cost of his Son's life. Now he demands our service in return. He has given us his Spirit and a new nature and has stated his will. With these resources, we obey his law in gratitude for our redemption. This is our duty to God.' In an important way this is true, but class-four legalists dwell on the law of God until they forget the love of God. Worshiping, delighting in, communing with, and conforming to God are forgotten.


    Class-four legalists can preach sermons in which every sentence is true, while the whole is oppressive. It is oppressive to proclaim Christ as the Lawgiver to whom we owe a vast debt, as if we must somehow repay him- - repay God! -- for his gifts to us.

    I count myself a member of the legion of recovering class-four legalists. We slide into a 'Just Do It' mentality occasionally, dispensing commands just because they are right.

    Psalm 111:1 Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. 2 The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. 3 His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. 4 He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. 5 He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. 6 He has declared to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations. 7 The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. 8 They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. 9 He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name. 10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

    Posted by Charles Biggs on June 21, 2007 03:55 PM

    Comments

    I appreciate the quote from Dan Doriani. I can't seem to find his book anywhere, "Classes of Legalists" - do you have a source?

    Thanks

    What Doriani book is that from?

    Thanks!

    Here is another Class of Legalist. It might fit into class three, because the Pharisees were guilty of classing the laws into essentials and non-essentials. This person, so overcome with the demands of the law, reduces laws to a manageable number that he can keep. His liberty has become an occasion to the flesh, that is, his reduction is based upon flesh, not based upon grace.

    Here is another Class of Legalist. It might fit into class three, because the Pharisees were guilty of classing the laws into essentials and non-essentials. This person, so overcome with the demands of the law, reduces laws to a manageable number that he can keep. His liberty has become an occasion to the flesh, that is, his reduction is based upon flesh, not based upon grace.

    The quote by Prof. Dan Doriani was very good, but it would be most helpful to your readers if you would cite the source of your quotes so that we could read more by Prof. Dan Doriani and so that we could properly document the source if we used the quote in our own writings.

    Thank you!

    Tom

    Dear Brethren,

    The book by Prof. Dan Doriani is:

    Putting the Truth to Work: The Theory and Practice of Biblical Application

    It may be available at MonergismBooks.com, or you can try another bookstore.

    IN Christ,

    Pastor Biggs

    "It is oppressive to proclaim Christ as the Lawgiver to whom we owe a vast debt, as if we must somehow repay him- - repay God! -- for his gifts to us."

    How is it oppressive? It truly is a vast debt... but I know I can never repay it. It has already been paid through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus. Nor am I required to do so. That said, if we truly love God for what He did for us through Christ on the cross then there is absolutely nothing He could ask of us that we would be unwilling to do. True I cannot "repay" God. But if he were to ask me to lay down my life for Him, I hope I would be able to say Yes, Lord.
    Paul said in Rom 8:12-13 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
    Are we not "debtors" to "mortify the deeds of the flesh"? (Obviously, we cannot die to the fleash without the Spirit.)

    Also, does not the great commision require us to reach out to the lost. Unless one believes that this commisioning was limited in scope to the disciples, we do indeed have a "debt" or a "responsibility" to obey. This is our "debt".


    Typically, most pastors preach salvation through faith in the morning service, and salvation by works in the evening. When confronted, they cannot even explain themselves, which makes me wonder what they learned in seminary? Probably the same contradiction.

    Typically, most pastors preach salvation through faith in the morning service, and salvation by works in the evening. When confronted, they cannot even explain themselves, which makes me wonder what they learned in seminary? Probably the same contradiction.

    We should live with Christ and not be taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy. That tied with these quotes gives a well rounded perspective on why the Gospel has to be central to our thinking and lives.

    We have an interesting and sad phenomenon in "fundamental
    evangelical" circles today.

    It depends on his actual attitude and teaching about some of these subjects. The ability to quote scripture counts for much less than the ability to understand the scripture.

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