A Response to an Antinomian

by Mike Ratliff

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (James 2:17-20 ESV)

I have rules for commenting on Possessing the Treasure that are assiduously enforced. However, there are some who absolutely refuse to abide by them then act offended when their comments never show up. One rule that I rigidly enforce is this one in which I require Biblical support for any argument challenging any of my teachings. The emphasis is that I teach from God’s Word and any quotes I give to support what I teach will be from another Bible teacher or if I am contrasting the Bible with a worldly or anti-Biblical source then I will quote them. This rule was put into place to force certain people to cease attempting to hijack this ministry via attacks using bullying tactics. I analyzed their attacks and they absolutely never used exegetically sound Biblical arguments to support their claims. When I put this rule into place almost all of it stopped. However, every now and then certain people attempt to derail what I have taught with man-centered arguments right out of some “seeker-sensitive” seminar. 

I received the following comment today on my post, The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith:

The question then becomes, “How much faithfulness?” If the standard is the Bible, everybody’s out. If the standard is Paul, most of us are out. If the standard is me, then there is much room.
But seriously, Mike, if you hold to Lordship salvation, what becomes the standard for proof that somebody is genuinely saved?

The person who sent this is permanently banned from my blog because he will not follow the rules not because he disagrees with me. This man is a disciple of Rick Warren and when I write anything about him he comes to his defense and no matter what Biblical proof I have that Rick Warren has moved further into apostasy, this man uses this same reasoning to defend him. Can you spot his problem? What is it?

Some may immediately point out that he is an antinomian, but that is actually a fruit of the root cause, which is, of course, that he is a man-centered, not God-centered. He is this way because he sees his own understanding and reasoning and the books of men like Rick Warren of greater benefit than God’s Word. Notice that he rejects the standard of the Bible as being how to determine if a person is genuinely saved. You see, this is the type of reasoning and theological base you have when you are a Pelagian because all you have is the Law. You may use the word Grace a lot, but it is only an ornament in the room. If you could take true Lordship salvation and try to make that into some sort of performance issue about who is saved according to who does more works than others then you are very confused. My post, The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith clearly did not make works a requirement for salvation and neither does God’s Word. Lordship Salvation does not teach that. What Lordship Salvation says is that Genuine Christians are saved by Grace alone through Faith alone, but that Faith is a believing, active, obedient faith. As James makes clear in James:2-17-20, “faith without works is dead.”

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (James 2:17-20 ESV)

Here is James 2:17-20 from the Greek text, “οὕτω καὶ ἡ πίστις, ἐὰν μὴ ἔργα ἔχῃ νεκρά ἐστι καθ᾿ ἑαυτήν. ᾿Αλλ᾿ ἐρεῖ τις· σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω· δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν σου ἐκ τῶν ἔργων σου, κἀγώ δείξω σοι ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν μου. σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι ὁ Θεός εἷς ἐστι· καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσι καὶ φρίσσουσι. θελεις δε γνωναι ω ανθρωπε κενε οτι η πιστις χωρις των εργων αργη εστιν;” Here is my personal translation, “So also the faith, if it does not have works, it is dead by itself. But some will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show to you from my works my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons believe and shudder! Do you want to know, you empty man, that the faith without works is useless?

Let us concentrate here on this useless faith. After all, the antinomian says that salvation is just a statement of belief and that’s all that is required, but according to James, that is εργων αργη. On the other hand, faith that is genuine is what? It is revealed by good works done as the truly regenerate walk in repentance and are given the grace to to obey God to do as James talks about here. These are not us doing works of the Law in a legalistic way like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. This is as Jesus spoke of to His disciples as we abide in Him as branches in the vine (John 15).

In any case, the word αργη is a predicate form of ἀργός or argos, which literally means, “not at work, idle, not employed, inactive, idle, or unprofitable.” I think “useless” fits that description very well.

My brethren, some confuse being genuinely saved with the assurance of salvation. I hope to cover that assurance in the next post, God willing.

Soli Deo Gloria!

8 thoughts on “A Response to an Antinomian

  1. Why did God not just give the Israelites a map and tell them when they reached a certain destination, they would inherit the promise? Because that would be a man centred faith. With each new day of the journey, they would learn when God gave them instructions, they would have to trust and honour him by obedience.
    Why did Christ not just give his disciples a mandate on how to cross into the promise of eternal life? Because it is a Spirit led walk where we learn to listen and honour him by our obedience. From start to finish it is God initiating and God centred. It is our response to the Spirit that brings us to the promised destination.
    Same God…same methods of teaching relationship with Him… which is the destination of our faith. How do we measure faithfulness? We don’t…God does.

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  3. Hi Mike,

    I am glad you will be covering assurance, Lord willing, in your next article. I was listening to John chapter 11 this morning and heard something beautiful in verse 42 when Jesus prays to the Father these words, “I knew that You always hear Me.” I thought of Hebrews 7 and the picure of our High Priest Jesus Christ ever living to make intercession for us and how His intercession will not fail because the Father always hears Him. Precious comfort that the faith He gives to us will not fail us. We put our trust in Him and His righteousness, not at all in our faith. Amen, Mike!

  4. If the standard is me, then there is much room

    I can’t believe this dude would just come out and admit that, since this pretty much sums up the entirety of the error…

    If you try and make yourself the measure of things, then all you are doing is making yourself God. You are making yourself the fixed reference point for everything, and then you get to be the Lord of your own little universe. This is what lies at the core of every sort of occult and New Age teaching. Of course that’s not surprising, since more people are waking up to the New Age (i.e. demonic) origins of Rick Warren’s message and the “seeker-sensitive” phenomenon…

  5. My experience in the seeker movement for many years helps me to understand where this person is coming from. You are right that is it man centered but they also have to ignore certain uncomfortable passages sprinkled all throughout the NT. For example, they will quote the first part of 1 John but not the subsequent parts. Or they do not see Hebrews 10:26-31 as speaking to professing believers.

    In fact, they are proud of sin! I know that sounds horrible but I came to see that it is very true. It is as if they believe what Paul warned about in Romans that if they continue in sin that grace abounds when in fact, it means they should work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

    What they are doing is negating the work of the Cross. They are denying the indwelling Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and growing in Holiness. What does it mean to be a new creation? Born Again? To stay in continual sin? We will never be perfectly sinless because we are in corrupted bodies with corrupted minds. But we can grow in Holiness and purity the difference being the indwelling Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.

    I write this in agreement with you even though I cannot consider myself a Calvinist.

    And I hope my reformed friends will understand that we can disagree on that but yet have a very Biblical view of sin.

    You know, I was thinking of this the other day in another context. Jesus was told His family was outside and he said, who are my mother and brothers? Those who do the will of my Father.

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