Pristine Grace

The Charge of Antinomianism
Part 2
by Eileen Beckett

The Charge of Antinomianism

I found an interesting statement in the article by Rev. C. Pronk that totally correlated with my posts on lawfully striving and I was thankful to read it. Why should there even be a debate he asks about ‘good works’ & sanctification when the bible urges us to follow after; to follow after holiness, to follow after that which is good, to follow after love, righteousness, faith, meekness and patience, calling for consistent and active endeavor, he says. Here is his answer to that and what Kohlbruegge feared would happen: (I apologize for the length of the quote but it is well worth the read)

“The reason for this is that expressions like “growing,” “increasing,” “striving,” and “pressing” can so easily be interpreted in a legalistic sense, so that they come to represent moralistic self-improvement rather than growth in grace.
There is always a danger that the activities suggested by these verbs will be seen as activities to be performed by man in his own strength, even if lip service is paid to the Holy Spirit and the need for His help in sanctification. To recognize this need doctrinally alone is not enough to keep us from going in the direction of works-righteousness. Only where this doctrine is experienced as well as confessed will the believer know how utterly dependant he or she is on the Holy Spirit for beginning the work of grace as well as for continuing that work and for bringing it to perfection.
It was this fear, namely that that Biblical doctrine of sanctification would degenerate into a system of moralistic self-improvement, that prompted Kohlbrugge to speak out against those who were always urging believers to strive after holiness. His main motive in doing so was to help troubled souls who under this constant barrage of exhortations to be holy were becoming depressed because they found themselves incapable of doing the things their teachers required of them. They were put on a guilt trip by men who preached Moses more than Christ.
Against this legalistic and moralistic preaching so prevalent in his day, Kohlbrugge sounded a clear protest and sought to lead the people back to the original message of the Reformation, namely Sola Fide, faith alone! Only that message brings comfort to troubled souls. The glorious truth that Christ has done everything for us, Kohlbrugge would not compromise, even if it brought him under suspicion of antinomianism. As I said already this charge was unjust. Few Christians lived as conscientious and upright a life as he did.”


I love this quote because I believe it to be the Truth. I still don’t know much about Kohlbruegge, I have a book on order and an article coming in the mail so maybe those will shed some light. In the back of my mind the thought keeps churning that what he was talking about was the preaching of topical legalistic sermons aimed at the congregants, instead of the Scriptures. You know the types if you have ever sat in a free will Baptist church. One scripture may be read and the rest is moralistic do and don’ts preached by those who worry so about keeping the commandments of men! It's Scripture that I want to hear, it's Scripture that the Holy Spirit will use to convict me of sin and to continue His work in me "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth" - John 17:17

This brings me to the one I knew who was a true antinomian. The Lord actually used her in my life to give me some Christian tapes on salvation and that was when I first came to know the Lord, or at least know of Him. We went to church together for several years and her profession was this; I am saved by grace and I can live my life anyway I want to and she did. She was the epitome of what Paul was talking about in Romans 6 when he says: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” There was nary a change in her life, or even the thought that there needed to be one. She was what I would call an antinomian and so I often questioned if she had been given a new heart at all.

William Huntington S.S. (Sinner Saved) has also been called an antinomian and I wanted to share one excerpt from his pen from the book I am reading that contains some of his work:

“God has left in all His children the old crop, to remind us of our base origin, to hide pride from our eyes, to exclude boasting from our lips, and to keep us from putting any confidence in the flesh. It is to exercise our grace, especially patience, to make us watchful, to make us sensible of the depth of man’s fall, and, finally, to exalt the grace of God; to make us sick of self, and sick of the world; sick of sin, and to teach us to prize the great Physician, and to make us long for that perfect rest which remaineth to the people of God. Sin is purged by the death of Christ, and dethroned by the grace of the Holy Spirit; we are justified from it by faith in Christ’s righteousness, and we shall take our final leave of it at death.”

It seems to me that these men who exalted Christ above man, who saw that we are wholly dependent on the Grace of God for all things, who saw the depravity of their own flesh were called antinomian because they didn’t want to have a man centered, good work focus. According to what I have read, both of these men were godly men who had the same longing that we do; a longing for righteousness but they realized the only righteousness that we could claim was not ours but Christ’s alone. They realized that to rely on the righteousness of Christ is the beginning and it is the end. There is amazing growth in the Christain life by the power of the Holy Spirit and that to me is what sanctification is; the continuing work of the Holy Spirit within me.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” –Phil 1:6