Religious “Legalism” with a capital “L” is heresy. It’s the belief that one’s personal virtue and obedience to religious norms or standards merits God’s favor and/or salvation. This “do-it-yourself” religion is antithetical to the gospel of Christ and the Bible’s grace-based religion. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” writes the apostle Paul. He goes on to remark, “This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). When asked what deeds God requires of men as a condition for eternal life, Jesus surprised his audience with the reply, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29; see also John 3:16, 36; Acts 4:12; 16:30-31; Rom 10:9-13).
I used to think that I could earn God’s favor and salvation on the basis of my inherent virtue and good works. Of course, I admitted I wasn’t perfect. But I foolishly presumed that my good deeds would somehow outweigh my bad deeds. In this respect, I thought and behaved much like the Pharisees, scribes, and Jewish people of Jesus’ day who trusted in their own inherent virtue and religious performance to merit their acceptance before God (Matt 5:20; Luke 16:14-15; 18:9-12, 14; Rom 10:1-3).
"There’s a back and forth—there is a role that we play in our relational life with God. That role is, as Paul puts it, that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. Now, how do you do that? I’d say primarily—not exclusively, but primarily—through the classical disciplines of the spiritual life." - CToday
"One of the earliest places we see His character is when He passed by Moses in the rock. Of everything God could proclaim about Himself, He chooses this—'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness' (Ex 34:6)." Rooted Thinking
Chapter III — The Grace of God
BY REV. C. I. SCOFIELD, D. D., EDITOR “SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE”
Grace is an English word used in the New Testament to translate the Greek word, Charis, which means “favor,” without recompense or equivalent. If there is any compensatory act or payment, however slight or inadequate, it is “no more grace”—Charis.
When used to denote a certain attitude or act of God toward man it is therefore of the very essence of the matter that human merit or deserving is utterly excluded. In grace God acts out from Himself, toward those who have deserved, not His favor, but His wrath. In the structure of the Epistle to the Romans grace does not enter, could not enter, till a whole race, without one single exception, stands guilty and speechless before God.
(Read Part 1.)
My intent in this article is to show from the Catechism of the Catholic Church a radically different understanding of nature and grace than what is taught by the Bible and held by Protestants. The Catholic view of grace and nature, along its view of Christ-Church interconnectedness, leads to a different gospel than found in the Bible. Lord willing, next week we will consider the Christ-church issue.
Our three main sources are the Bible, Allison’s Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
We are entering into the Byzantine substructures of Roman Catholic theology. And while I am attempting to make sure each article in the series can stand alone, the reader will be greatly assisted by reading the first article in this series.
CHAPTER V - SALVATION BY GRACE
BY REV. THOMAS SPURGEON, LONDON, ENGLAND
Once upon a time, I met, on board an Australian liner, an aged man of genial temperament, and of sound and extensive learning. He managed to dwell in well-nigh perpetual sunshine, for he followed the sun round the globe year after year, and he was himself so sunny that the passengers made friends with him, and sought information from him. It fell out that a discussion having arisen as to what “Grace” was, someone said, “Let us ask ‘The Walking Encyclopoedia’; he will be sure to know.” So to him they went with their inquiry as to the meaning of the theological term, “Grace.” They returned woefully disappointed, for all he could say was, “I confess that I don’t understand it.” At the same time he volunteered the following extraordinary statement: “I don’t think that they understand it either who so often speak of it.” Like the medical man of whom the Rev. T. Phillips told in his Baptist World Congress sermon who said of Grace, “It is utterly meaningless to me,” this well-read traveller comprehended it not. Some among us were hardly astonished at this, but it did occur to us that he might have allowed that it was just possible that on this particular theme, at all events, some less learned folk might be more enlightened than himself. Now, it chanced that on that same vessel there was a Christian seaman, who, if he could not have given a concise and adequate definition of “Grace,” nevertheless knew perfectly well its significance, and would have said, “Ay, ay, sir; that’s it,”