Saturday, July 14, 2012

Of Judaizers and the Gospel, the beat goes on...

Solomon's words, "That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" in Ecclesiastes 1 are no truer than when applied to the history of the Church and her battles against various false teachings and heresies. At the center of many, if not most, errant paths is the idea that fallen man, in order to be saved, must supply something of himself to supplement the atoning work of Jesus Christ. The first such challenge occurred almost right out of the gate with the Judaizers. These men taught that Jesus was the Savior.  Many had standing with the church in Jerusalem. They preached that Jesus died on the cross and that to be justified before God one must have faith and rely on grace. Yet there was more to their "gospel." And it is essentially that "more" which elevated man's own works to the level of co-worker with Christ in the sinner's justification before God.  Paul's verdict on that approach to salvation was unequivocal - I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought (Gal. 2:21).
The Old Testament prophets warned Israel against this idea that salvation could come by any other means than the gratuitous mercy of God. Jesus confronted the Pharisees again and again on their presumed acceptance before God based, in part, on their own righteousness. And this issue was what the Reformation in the 16th century was all about. Rome preached the grace of God and faith in Christ. Yet over a number of centuries she had added to the pure gospel other requirements to be met and burdens to carry in order for one to merit justification.

And today, we see all too often God's people weighted down by this same subtle, yet toxic teaching: the seemingly irresistible tendency in the Church (whether Rome, Orthodox, or Protestant) to add man's works to Christ's as part of the merit of one's standing before God. It was this very doctrine of justification by faith apart from works that John Calvin called the hinge on which all true religion hangs.  And it is the continuing challenge to that gospel that J. Gresham Machen concisely addressed in his book, Christianity and Liberalism.  Regarding the Judaizers, he comments on their false teaching which the apostle Paul confronted in his letter to the church in Galatia.
They, believed, moreover, that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation.  But the trouble was, they also believed that something else was also necessary; they believed that what Christ had done needed to be pieced out by the believer's own effort to keep the Law...
Paul saw very clearly that the difference between the Judaizers and himself was the difference between a religion of merit and a religion of grace...
The difference which divided him from the Judaizers was no mere theological subtlety, but concerned the very heart and core of the religion of Christ.  "Just as I am without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me" - that is what Paul was contending for in Galatia; That hymn would never have been written if the Judaizers had won.  And without the thing which that hymn expresses there is no Christianity at all.  (Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 20-21)


  1. Keep preaching salvation by faith alone, Jack:)

  2. Hi Charlie,

    Amen! and God bless you.


  3. 1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
    2. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
    3. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
    4. Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
    5. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
    ( Gal 3:1-5)

    “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth as crucified…” (3:1b)

    Christ has not been preached unless particular redemption and imputation have been preached. The Judaizers did talk about the they death of Christ but they not know Christ.

    Those who know Christ know that God requires a righteousness that we sinners cannot produce and that God in Christ established for the elect a righteousness that demands salvation for the elect. The law demands death, even the death of One who was never a sinner, but who was imputed with the sins of the elect.

    There are only two kinds of people in the world -the justified elect whose work will be accepted because they were not working to get God’s blessing, and Judaizers whose works (and persons) will be condemned because their “good deeds” were wicked attempts to establish their own righteousness.