If the word legalism means strict adherence to God’s law, then Jesus and his apostles were also legalists. Jesus told His disciples: “What things soever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven . . .” (Matt. 16:19 cf; 18:18) Jesus commanded obedience for he said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15) Jesus’ apostles commanded obedience for Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) To this end the “Spirit of truth” came to guide the apostles unto all the truth (Jn 16:13). In this sense Jesus and His apostles were legalists.
Is The Gospel a Legalist Term?
Jesus did not suggest the gospel, but rather commanded it to be preached unto all the world to every creature. Then Jesus commanded exactly what to preach when he said: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be condemned (Mk 16:16). When the men in Acts chapter 2 asked Peter and the other apostles “What shall we do?” Peter commanded with authority, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul stated just as clearly when he said, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 1:7-8).
Now someone is terribly wrong here. IF anti-legalist are correct, then Jesus and his apostles were legalists for they were teaching a strict adherence to the law. According to those who teach anti-legalism, Jesus should have said, “Belief and baptism save you not, for you were saved when I died for you .” When Peter was asked, ‘What shall we do?’ he should have said, “Repentance and baptism don’t wash away your sins, for the Lord’s blood on the cross took away your sins .” Anti-legalists say, “The law of Christ is: ‘There is no law’. Paul should have never threatened the vengeance of God for those who disobey the gospel of Christ. He should have rather preached God’s grace and love for all who believe in him.
Conclusively, all who are anti-legalist are also anti-gospel of Christ!
Is The Doctrine of Christ a Legalist Term?
The doctrine of Christ taught Christians to meet every first day of the week (Acts 20:7 f; Heb 10:25) to remember the Lord’s death, (1 Cor 11:24-26) to give of their means (1 Cor 16:1,2), and to be taught the Word of God. (2 Tim 4:2-6). The doctrine of Christ also included Christians to sing and make melody in the heart to the Lord (Eph 5:19). The doctrine of Christ commanded all Christians to remain faithful unto death to the commandments of the Lord (Rev 2:10). The beloved John made it abundantly clear when he said, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn 9).
Now someone is terribly wrong here. IF anti-legalists are correct, then Christians no longer have to meet on Sunday, remember the Lord’s death, give of their means, sing without the use of instruments, hear the Word be taught or be faithful unto death. These are all laws and would, therefore, be optional. Anyone who dares command that the saints of God have to abide in any doctrine whatsoever is pure ludicrous to anti-legalist. According to their definitions, all the apostles were legalists, and not to be followed (1 Cor 11:1).
According to anti-legalist, Christ and his apostles were mistaken for forbidding anyone to commit adultery, fornication, or homosexuality (Mt 19:9 ff; 1 Cor 6:0,10; Gal 5:19-21). According to these ultraliberals, there are no laws, there are no doctrines, and there is no right or wrong. Is it any wonder that they who profess such also say that God did not inspire all scriptures (1 Tim 3:16,17). Is it any wonder they say the apostles were not inspired writers? (Gal 1:11,12),
Conclusively, all who are anti-legalist are also anti-doctrine of Christ!
Anti-Legalist Are Legalist
To Their Own Doctrine
Oddly enough, according to their own belief, they are legalist as well. However, they are not legalist to God’s Word but rather to their own words. They are like those in the days of Jeremiah who said, “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, … For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble” (Jer 44:16-18). These are they who Isaiah described and Jesus reiterated by saying, “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matt 15:7-9). These are they who will obey their own laws and doctrines but reject God’s commandments and doctrines.
What Anti-Legalists Can’t Answer
Why on earth do anti-legalist believe that we are commanded to study and rightly divide God’s Word if God’s Word is not to be followed? (2 Tim 2:15) Why are we commanded to prove all things and hold firm that which is good, if it’s not good to strictly hold firm the truth of God? (1 Thess 5:21). Why are we commanded to contend for the faith, if the faith is whatever you want it to mean? (Jude 3) Why must we be set for the defense of the gospel, if the gospel can’t save or condemn anyone? (Philip 1:15-18) Why are we commanded not to go beyond that which was written, if we don’t have to abide by that which was written? (1 Cor 4:6) Truly, anti-legalist are anti-God’s Word. They are no better than deist who believes in God, but not in religion or the bible. Their law is their own law and their doctrine is their own doctrine.
Conclusion: If Christ was a legalist, so am I! If the apostles were legalists, so am I! If it is my cross to be called a legalist by ultra-liberals and denominationalist, so be it! If I am asked to choose whom to obey explicitly, I choose Christ and his apostles! Anti-legalist hang their doctrine on God’s love and no law, for all else to them is legalism (Jn 3:16) Jesus and his apostles said it plainly, “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends, and you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you” (Jn 15:13,14) John said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 Jn 6) “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (Jn 15:10). “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 Jn 2:3) “He that keeps not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:4). Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:31-32).
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me” (Jn 14:6) “According to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Tit 1:1-3). “You know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus” (1 Thess 4:2) “Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 Jn 2:5). “This is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Pet 1:25 f; 1 Cor 15:1-4).
Jesus commanded His gospel to be preached to every nation: All who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but all unbelievers shall be condemned (Mk 16:15,16 f; Mt 28:19,20). All who confess not shall be denied. (Mt 10:32,33 f; 2 Tim 2:12). All who repent not shall perish (Lk 13:3). All who endure to the end shall be saved (Mt 24:13). If we obey the Lord’s gospel and abide in the Lord’s doctrine until the end, we have the full assurance of God that we shall be saved (Gal 1:6-9 f; 2 Jn 9). If this is legalism, I plead guilty and hope that God rewards me a legalist reward, i.e., eternal life! All anti-legalist need to repent and obey the commandments of the Lord to the full extent of the law of Christ and his blessed apostles. Anything less is damnation to their souls (2 Thess 1:7-9 f; 2 Jn 9).
If a legalist is a Pharisee hypocrite as ultra-liberals and denominationalists define, then they should obey legalist. Jesus said, “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (Matt 23:3). Therefore, even if you think those who obey the law strictly are hypocrites, Jesus commanded you to obey what they command you to do. Yet, ultra-liberals and denominationalists are twice worst than the ones they condemn, for they neither say or do!