Echo keeps burying these gems deep into long comment trails where nobody will ever see them! I can’t get him to start his own blog, but maybe this is the next best thing: I have (without his permission) lifted about half of this comment and brought it up to this top level (where about 3 more people than nobody will ever see them!)
Have you ever wondered how it is that the Judaizers who demanded people be circumcised were making people take on the yoke of the law? After all, the sign of circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the righteousness by faith which he had before he was circumcised, according to Romans 4. In other words, circumcision was not a sign of the Mosaic (law) covenant, but of the Abrahamic (promise/gospel) covenant. So how come taking the sign of the gospel covenant meant taking on the yoke of the law?If you ponder this question, it will begin to become puzzling. However, the answer is not difficult. The answer is that the Judaizers had transformed the sign of circumcision into something that God had never intended. Circumcision had never been intended by God to be a sign of the covenant of works, but of the covenant of grace. What is symbolized by circumcision is found in Gen 15, where GOD pledges himself to Abraham, not the other way around. It is GOD who “walks the aisle” between the pieces of the animals. It is GOD who pledges himself to Abraham. Circumcision meant that God would be faithful to the one circumcised, not the other way around.So then why does Paul say what he does? Because they had transformed circumcision from what it was supposed to be into something it was never intended to be. They turned it into a work which they declared to be preconditional for salvation. You can’t be saved, they said, until you have been circumcised. They transformed circumcision from a sign that God would be faithful to save you, a sign that says that your salvation is ultimately in God’s hands, to a sign that signified that your salvation is ultimately not in God’s hands, but yours. These Judaizers were saying that yes, God does 90% of your salvation, but you still must do that last 10%. It is not faith alone, it is faith AND works.
So what’s the relevance here Echo?
Arminians do the same thing. They turn our belief into a work that you must do in order to be saved. No longer is it faith alone, it’s faith AND this one work. This waters down the gospel from what it truly is. A watered down gospel is a false gospel. That’s it.
But you say that these people are still preaching Christ, how could it be a false gospel!
The Judaizers only added one, small, little work to the work of Christ by which we are saved. They didn’t change everything about the gospel, they only added this one thing. They only added circumcision.
That was enough for Paul to declare it another gospel in the book of Galatians, and he said that those who teach another gospel, well:
Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
There are not degrees of falsehood. There is truth and falsehood. That’s it. There’s God’s righteousness and our filthy rags that we lovingly refer to as righteousness. God’s standard is an infinite perfect standard. God does not compromise even a little bit.
The Arminian gospel is like the Judaizer’s gospel. It is the gospel with a little bit of something mixed in. It is either the pure, unadulterated gospel, or it is NOT the gospel.
Faith plus works, even if it is only one work, is NOT faith alone.
Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
I like the NIV’s translation of verse 21. It says that if justification were through the law, then Christ died for NOTHING.
Our sinful tendency is to deny that we’re really all that bad and sinful. We don’t want to believe that. We don’t want to believe that we are COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY at God’s mercy. But if we’re ENTIRELY at God’s mercy, then our salvation is not in our hands but his. That’s what it MEANS to be entirely at his mercy!
We don’t want to be entirely at his mercy. We want to believe our salvation is a little bit in our hands. We want to think that we have just a little bit of control over our salvation, because for some twisted, sinful reason, this gives us a measure of assurance that we will in fact be saved.
But rest assured, your salvation is NOT in your hands, but in God’s. You are in fact ENTIRELY at his mercy. But what MORE does God have to do to convince you that he will deal mercifully with you? Rather than punish you for your sin, he sent his only Son to dwell among us and to live and die and live again for us!