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4 Stars Out Of 5
Well Balanced book on an important subject
May 7, 2014
This is a great book written by a variety of authors whom all give different perspectives on the topic of legalism. I wish the book had a topical & scripture index as my main complaints, besides some occasional grammar/spelling errors. From the very introduction a definition of legalism is given which is an obsessive concern with rules, paying more attention to the letter of the law than the spirit, and those more concerned with law than grace. Throughout the chapter the author better defines a legalist and speaking from experience I know exactly what he is talking about as I had previously attended a school in the south with a good portion of the students and faculty I believed to be legalists of some stripe. For example there was a number of students that would not join my team in street evangelism because they would see inappropriately dressed unbelievers, and or be around unbelievers that drank alcohol, which was sad because Jesus himself ate with tax collectors and sinners! In the next chapter Dr. Steven Lawson writes well and explains the difference between Truth & Tradition. He defines tradition as "any man-made rules and regulations contrary to the word of God that must be kept for either salvation of sanctification"(9). He defines Truth as the study of God (9). We live in a day with a number of churches that are loaded with traditions and follow them more than God. Roman Catholics, The Plymouth Brethren, Missionary Baptists are a few legalistic groups. Lawson speaks about the conflict Christ and the "separatist" Pharisee's had in his day whom were not very concerned with inward transformation or Holiness. Lawson makes his point clear on page 12 that legalists spend all their time only with Christians but not with unbelievers. He further clarifies this point on page 17 and challenges believers to engage the world with the gospel and this certainly means being involved in street evangelism, homeless out reach, jail ministry, nursing home ministry, and the like to reach the lost. The Chapter the Cross is Enough by Bruce Bickel is another highlight to the book as in the chapter Dr. Bickel makes his case that Christians need not be obsessed with fads, toys, seminars, camps, retreats, new books, videos, blogs, and all the new hypes these days designed to improve one's relationship with God. The book market is very big and authors make allot of money selling ideas to people that want a spiritual hype. Unfortunately I also have fallen prey to this in some of my book purchases over the years. Bickel makes a good case that we need not be concerned with WWJD meaning "What Would Jesus Do?" but rather WHJD "What Has Jesus Done" which leaves out the subjective but solely focuses on the objective of the Bible. On page 48 Bickel explains the differences between legalism, Licentiousness, and Grace, and sadly today most of the professing church probably falls in the category of Licentiousness which means they can sin all they want, for God does not care. The next highlight of the book is John MacArthur's Chapter called Obedience: Love or Legalism. In this chapter Mac attempts to reason with the reader the position of Lordship Salvation promoted in many of his books and that the true disciple of God will want to obey Christ because he/she has been born from above. Also the many that call Christian's legalists because they follow the Bible, study the Bible, and or take the Word seriously may indeed be false converts or as Charles Stanley would say they are walking in the flesh. Whatever is the case Mac uses plenty of scripture to justify his position against the antinomianism attitude of today's professing church. The legalist will obey God out of duty to fulfill a requirement for a school, church, or to merit salvation, but a true follower out of love, and a desire to grow in Holiness, and also to gain rewards in the next life. Dr. Erwin Lutzer wrote an excellent book on this topic called "Your Eternal reward" which speaks of the judgment seat of Christ and of those obeying God to gain rewards in the next life, which should be the motive behind a true disciple.
I have not yet finished this book but will add more to this review when completed. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for writing a balanced review.