Pristine Grace

Kohlbrugge and the Law!
by Eileen Beckett
Kohlbrugge and the Law!

"What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead”. Romans 7:8-9

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Romans 7:14 

Dr. Kohlbrugge’s sermon on Romans 7 is difficult to read and understand. It isn’t like a sermon that you can pick up and read quite easily. He was Dutch and he wrote, as one person described, with parenthetical phrases, long sentences and his language is quite idiomatic (a distinct style or character). So I read and then I re-read and I take it quite slowly. I lay it down for a time and then come back but the amazing thing is there are always nuggets that simply jump out at you. This is where I came to with the last reading and it compliments my own thoughts and studies on the Law. He had a great zeal for the glory of grace and in that I fully and most humbly agree with him. 

Dr. H. F. Kohlbrugge’s sermon on Romans seven:

“I know some will slander those who follow me and in malice make this claim” (about him and his beliefs).

Here is the claim that others have made of him. 

“I am not concerned whether that which the law commands or forbids is done or transgressed; that a man should do evil that good may follow; that a man many continue in sin freely, as long as he holds to grace alone”

And his answer to them:

"Oh, no I surely desire nothing else than what the law wants; how could I do otherwise, since I love, honor, value and esteem the law ever since I ‘accepted’ (came to know of in conversion, I don’t believe we accept) the righteousness of God. But I teach you that, if a man will retain the law and works---when a person is dead unto them by the body of Christ, and when a person seeks to bring it into harmony with Christ, with which a man is dead unto sin in his death, and with whom we live unto God in his resurrection: that then a person does just the very opposite of that which the law demands; and that a man acts contrary to his own spirit, when he seeks to fulfill the law after the letter.

If you esteem the law the way I esteem it, so as not to overlook even a tittle of the same and rather use it as a witness against you, then you will keep close to Christ, then you will serve God in Spirit and in truth. But if not, then a person removes himself from the grace of God by his truth according to the letter, because he has a spiritual lie in his right hand.................. I desire what the law wants, but I do not find in it what I would. 

And so, everything is of God, in whom we are justified, holy and delivered in Christ Jesus, and from whom we receive all things as it is present in the knowledge of Jesus Christ on the ground of faith in his word, power and truth. There the law is not against us, but I am for the law; and since now---the way I favor the law and assent to it-----I am aware of my daily, repeated and ceaseless acts, thoughts, reflections and desires and the imaginations and thoughts of my heart; I see that the Spirit does not proceed from the flesh; for I do the very opposite of that which I praise in the law." 

The title for his sermon on Romans 7 was the crux of his understanding: “For I am carnal, sold under sin”. He saw himself through the law, when sin becomes ‘exceedingly sinful’ and he saw the great difference between the flesh and the spirit. We will drag this flesh, this old man around the remainder of our days here and this flesh is always under sin and will never improve. The Scripture tells us that we are no longer under the Law because the Law as a rule of life only speaks to the flesh not the spirit. 

Oh but wait you might say, the Scripture exhorts us to live a holy life. 

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” Ephesians 4:23

It is this continual renewing of our mind by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel, the knowledge of the Grace that is ours in Christ Jesus that is the power within us that causes us to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh.

Amen and Amen!