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Grace and Law:
Liberalism and Legalism Part VIII

By G. C. Brewer

religion, articles, christianity

1. In article number 7, we pointed out that the whole treatise that brother Key has written on the subject of "The Law of Christ" was intended to "liberate" people from any obligation to obey the conditions of salvation laid down by Christ and the apostles. In several articles, we pointed out that the whole idea that obsesses these boys is that we must promise salvation and offer Christian fellowship to the people who do not comply with the terms of the gospel. Yet the one condition of the gospel that these boys are having trouble dispensing with is baptism. This is proof that they do not care to deal with the other conditions and this shows that their reason is that the denominations in general accept the other conditions and where these boys are in agreement with the denominations, they have no argument to make and no scripture to deny and no one to condemn. Here is proof that the motive of which they may not be conscious is that of becoming recognized in the great movement of "ecumenicity" as shown in a former article, "The Mania for a One-World Church Parallels the Mania for a One-World Government." These new-orthodox contenders are determined to get to this universal church. They must not allow the little matter of one of the Lord's commandments to get in the way. Therefore, their rather clever but wholly illogical arguments are given to us as though they were something new and intellectual! They are neither.

Immediately following the question and answer we quoted from brother Key's booklet in article number 7, we have the following question and answer:

Question: Still they have not obeyed God, and how can there be any hope for them?
Answer: There is no hope for them on the basis of a full obedience, but neither is there for any of us. The hope lies not in their perfect obedience but in their Father's grace and love.

The fallacy in this answer is the same old fallacy that we have been meeting and exposing for 50 long years. It is this: If you think that people must be baptized to be saved, you then will have to insist that they will have to comply with every commandment in the scriptures, every Christian duty, meet every obligation and keep the whole law letter-perfect or there could be no salvation. This fallacy assumes baptism is meritorious and that the individual saves himself by meeting the demands of a legal system. Since this is the ground of his salvation, then he will have to meet all the demands of this legal system. This is untrue. This is not our teaching concerning baptism and, therefore, has no value as an argument at all. It was pointed out by the writer of this booklet himself that baptism is connected with salvation, that it is for the remission of sins, that it is a condition upon which one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, that it is an act of faith and a pledge of commitment to the Savior, and this, he says, is what Christ and the apostles taught. We have said that this is correct, but now the author says that to say that people must be baptized is to make baptism a legal step in a plan, and, therefore, one is debtor to keep the whole law if one is baptized.

Cannot anyone see that when one is committed to Christ and seals that vow with an act of faith, that such a one is expecting and hoping for salvation on the promise of Christ, through the merit of Christ, and by the mercy of God? Being thus committed to Christ, he continues to obey him as best he can, not because his salvation depends upon his perfect obedience, but because he is committed to the Savior and because he loves him and, therefore, keeps his commandments. Failure to reach perfection will not mean a failure to reach heaven. Faults and failures and even sins are forgiven the man in Christ because he is in Christ and is walking in the light (Eph. 1:7; 2 Tim. 2:10; I John 1:5,9).

2. There is an obedience that ends in salvation and an obedience that follows because of salvation. Any Bible student should know that there is a difference between an alien and a citizen in the kingdom of God; that there is a difference between a child of God, even a disobedient child, and a rebel against God's authority and even a stranger to God's love and mercy. The soul is committed to Christ and then enjoys the benefits of this relationship. If one wants proof that there is an obedience that ends in salvation, one may consider the following scriptures. In the 6th chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul shows clearly why Christians should not continue in sin. It is because they are dead to sin and alive unto Christ. He points back to the time when they became Christians. He tells them, in effect to look down that road over which they have come, to consider the grave that comes into view as they look backward. That grave is where the old man that sinned died and was buried. On this side of that grave, a new man is living. That grave is his baptism. That is when he entered into Christ and was made free from sin. In the 17th verse of this chapter, the apostle changes the figure of speech and speaks after the manner of men. He talks of masters and servants; he reminds these Romans that they had been servants of Old Master Sin, but they had been emancipated from this Master and had become !he servants of a New Master Righteousness. Now how did this transaction take place? He tells them that they obeyed from the heart a form of doctrine that had been delivered to them and they were then made free from sin. He continues with the figure to the end of the chapter and asks, "What wages would sin pay you?" The answer is: "The wages of sin is death." But now, being freed from the service of sin, we have not a payment but a gift of God, which is eternal life. They obeyed a form of the doctrine or teaching and this brought an end to the life of sinning and brought freedom from the guilt of sin, but they entered into another type of serving which in this chapter is called "obedience to righteousness."

This same point is made clear by the apostle Peter. He taught Christians that they had purified their souls in obeying the truth (I Pet. 1:22). Now they had rendered this obedience which resulted in the purifying of their souls. After this, they as pure souls or as Christians were to continue to obey the Lord and serve him as now the people of God. This same apostle makes a similar point in chapter 4:17. He says that the time has come "for judgment to begin in the house of God; and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel?" Here it is plainly implied that those in the house of God had obeyed the gospel and, as a result of that, they were in God's house, God's family; they were God's children. Others who had not obeyed the gospel were not in God's house or God's family. They were not God's children.

These references should clearly prove to any man who will read them that there is an obedience that people render to the gospel of Christ which brings them to a relationship where they enjoy advantages, benefits, and blessings that those who are not in this relationship cannot have. Those who have been saved thus by the grace of God then have good works which God has ordained for them to walk in (Eph. 2:8-10).

G. C. Brewer, deceased


(Editor's note: The Brewer articles on "Grace and Law: Liberalism and Legalism "first appeared in 1955 in the Gospel Advocate. We are reprinting them because the truth they taught when first written is still true ... and will ever be true. We have some in the church today who have revived the Key heresy. For example, Rubel Shelly wrote: "It is a scandalous and outrageous lie to teach that salvation arises from human activity of any sort. We do not contribute one whit to our salvation " [The Second Incarnation by Rubel Shelly and Randall J. Harris, p. 207]. It appears that Shelly, like Key, is bent on destroying the identity and exclusiveness of the church and making it into a denomination among denominations, but without purpose. Shelly blends all denominations into a pilgrim church and ruins the distinctive claim of the one body of Christ, which is the church of Christ - H. A. (Buster) Dobbs )


Published April 1993