Legalism: What it is. What it is not.

A couple years ago, we had a couple who came to our meetings. They were saved Christians, but they took a strong stand not to celebrate Christmas, which is one of my families
favourite holidays. These were not Jehovah's witnesses, they were Bible believing Christians. When I mentioned this situation to another believer, he immediately accused them of being legalists. "Legalism?!?" I thought. I was surprised to hear the word, because this is not one I normally use. Knowing the definition, I personally would not have applied it to this situation. Words and definitions are very important. So I wanted to take a moment to address this word which is so often misused. What is legalism?

What Legalism is…

First, legalism means to mix works with grace for salvation. A legalist is someone who believes, or teaches, that one must keep the law in order to be saved. This goes
contrary to the Bible and contradicts the definition of grace.

A second definition for legalism is to add human tradition to the Word of God, teaching the tradition as if it was what God said to do. The Bible is clear about placing traditions over the Bible. This is one of the things that
the pharisees did. Consider the following verses…

Jesus said the following about holding traditions over the Word of God…
Mark 7:9: And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
Mark 7:13: Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

The Apostle Paul also said concerning tradition…
Colossians 2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Jesus and the Apostle Paul were both very clear that we are not to place traditions above the clear teaching of the Bible. The Jewish leaders were doing this at the time of Christ. (ie They added traveling restrictions to the Sabbath day.) A modern example of a tradition that is not in the Bible would be Christmas. Nothing in the Bible says we must celebrate Christmas. This also goes for Lent, Easter, and every other "Christian" holiday, because according to the Bible itself, there are no holidays, or holy days, that are required to be kept (See Colossians 2:16 below). This does not mean I am personally against someone celebrating the birth of Christ, but I have no problem with someone who does not. This definition for "legalism" also
could not be applied to the situation I mentioned at the beginning, unless the people were adding it to salvation.

Colossians 2:14: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Colossians 2:15: And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Colossians 2:16: Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Colossians 2:17: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

In context, these verses above are specifically referring to the Jewish ordinances. The Jewish holy days and dietary restrictions of the Old Testament were done away with in at the crucifixion. They were "a shadow of things to come", a picture of the coming messiah, and when He came and fulfilled His purpose, the ordinances were no longer needed. In other words, since Christ died on the cross I am not to judge whether someone keeps the Old Testament holy days, or not.

“What Legalism Is Not”

is not New Testament, separated, holy living. Consider the following verses…

Ephesians 2:8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The New Testament is clear that a born-again Christian is saved by grace without works, but he is also supposed to live a life of good works. These good works do not save a man, nor do they maintain his salvation, but they
reveal to the world that they are saved. It reveals that they have power over sin and the flesh. A believer is to follow the Word of God, not to be saved but because he is saved.

Consider some other verses…
Ephesians 5:11: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Titus 2:11: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12: Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Titus 2:15: These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

I John 5:3: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

There are some who accuse others of being "legalists", simply because they live holy, separated lives. Taking New Testament commands seriously and applying them to one's life IS NOT "Legalism", it is the responsibility of every born again believer. Also, for a Bible preacher to exhort God’s people to obey the details of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit's power is also not legalism. Rather, it is the responsibility, and
what God requires, of every gospel preacher. Although this is not popular in modern contemporary churches, a pastor is supposed to preach the whole counsel of God. If he does not, he is misleading his people.

Ezekiel 3:20: Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
Ezekiel 3:21: Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

Discover how to receive Christ's forgiveness today!
See this video.

Want to learn more?
Join us
Sundays for our Sunday Meetings 11:30am & 5:00pm in the city centre.
7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, or

Read the rest of the article…

How healthy is your body?

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." -1 Corinthians 12:12

(For verse links, please click and read online)

This entry is for those who are part of a local church (assembly), a local body of believers. If you are part of a universal/invisible church and body, this entry is
not for you.

Being a part of a universal/invisible church and body, hopefully you are in one that holds pure doctrines (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 4:14-16), and one that has an universal/invisible pastor (1 Timothy 3:1-7). I also hope that it is a universal/invisible church that carries out the ordinances of the Lords Supper and Baptisms (1 Corinthians 11:2). It should also be a place that, when you have an issue with another believer, you can take that issue before the universal/invisible church as Jesus said (Matthew 18:15-17). The Bible also says we need to be faithful and not to miss the universal/invisible church services (1 Corinthians 14:23; Hebrews 10:24-25), so you can fellowship and get encouragement from the universal/invisible people. (Listen to Pillar and Ground of Truth, Ecclesiology Sermons)

All kidding aside, for those who attend, and are members of local bodies of believers, like the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:2), the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1) and the Ephesians (Revelation 2:1), you need to understand that you are a member of a body (Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:27). God compares a church to a body because it is something we can relate to. Every member, every part of our physical body, is essential. Is there a part of your body you would want to be cut off? Imagine our body without eyes? Without a nose? Without legs? Did you know the big toe is vital for a human being to balance on their feet, yet we think so little about it. It is the same with a local body of believers. Some believers are more noticeable than others, but every individual is essential and needed for a local church to function correctly.

(I Corinthians 12:12-27)
Imagine a nose deciding, I am going to depart and go off on my own. Imagine a hand saying I don't need eyes, feet and legs, yet this is what is happening throughout the Christian world. Christians detach from local bodies and go it on their own.

How can a physical nose reach its full potential without being part of a physical body?
How can physical fingers reach their full potential without being part of a physical body?
How can a physical heart reach its full potential without being part of a physical body?
Sounds like something out of a 1950's horror film.
How can a born-again Christian reach their full potential without being part of a body of believers?
Unfortunately, this is happening with Christians throughout the world, and it is killing Christianity and churches. It weakens Christians, because like a nose or fingers without a body, they will NEVER reach their full potential for God. (1 Corinthians 12:15-16) The reason is that they've detached themselves from a body of believers, a church, an ekklesia, a called-out assembly. Like an eye cannot say I am fine on my own; neither can a Christian because they need and should be relying on a local body of believers.

Similarly, if you disassemble a human body it dies, and it is the same as a church. A body that is disassembled and scattered is not a body. A body without parts is a hurting body. A part without a body is not functioning correctly. A local church, a local body of believers, is vital to the sustainability of a Christian. A Christian needs to be part of a local church for their well being. This is what God says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

Body parts function together. Every member of a local body of believers is so vitally important. Their purpose is to function together in unity (Ephesians 4:16), unity of doctrine (Ephesians 4:13-14), unity of Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), and a unity of purpose, to lift the name of Christ and spreading the Gospel.

The Bible says God is the one who places people in a body of believers (1 Corinthians 12:28). If you are part of a universal/invisible body, don't pay any mind to what was said, but if God has placed you in a doctrinally sound (Acts 2:42; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 16:17) body of believers, you should stay there, immerse yourself, and get involved in all that they do. Make yourself an important, relied upon member of that body. Be consistent, faithful, and helpful and watch how the Lord blesses your life with growth and fruit. Then you'll see that church, that body of believers, grow and do great things for Christ.

Please feel free to email any comments or questions. [email protected]

If you need help finding a church,
here is a sermon that covers this very topic.
Here are some
local churches that I would recommend.

Discover how you can receive Christ's forgiveness today!
See this video.

Want to learn more?
Join us
Sundays for our Sunday Meetings 10:30am & 11:30am in the city centre.
7 Lower Mallow, Limerick City, County Limerick, or

(At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible-based, Baptist Distinctives, that has been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.)

Read the rest of the article…

Questions for Bible Believers (updated, clarified & revised)

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

In this verse, the Bible tells us clearly that Christians are to "be not drunk with wine". I have several questions to ask ourselves.

1. If this means it is OK to drink so long as we don't get intoxicated, how can we follow this command without actually breaking it?

2. Who would be more strict about drink? God or the government?

3. Since this verse specifically says "wine", Does that mean it is OK to be drunk with hard liquor or beer? Would this apply to marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs or not?

4. According to this verse, can a Christian be "filled with the Holy Spirit" while they are drunk?

Email your comments… [email protected]
Read the rest of the article…

Will We Repeat History?

I have had people tell me that history is not reliable because it is distorted,
Screen Shot 2019-06-29 at 18.41.33
therefore they throw out all history. Personally, I think this is a foolish mistake. All history is indeed written, to some degree, from a biased point of view. We should never accept history as being infallible like the Bible, but by studying it and knowing history, we can see where the world is heading. We can avoid the mistakes of the past. If we do not know history, we will be bound to repeat it. Read the rest of the article…

Is a “Little Anger” OK?

(Below is an excerpt of an email from Dr. S. M. Davis who has brilliant, helpful sermon counselling videos)

I had given my message on “
ANGER THE DESTROYER” at a church and was standi
ng at my table in the church’s foyer. A man came walking up to me and with an Angry Spirit (that he didn’t know he had) said, “Well, I heard everything you just said and I still think a little anger is alright! The difference in you and me is that you raised all girls and I had a houseful of boys and if you don’t get angry with boys sometime they won’t do what you want them to do! You have to have anger if you’re going to raise boys!”
Wow! Where do I start in answering that?!
I assured him that I knew what it was like to use anger when…
Read the rest of the article…

Jesus Did, or Didn't, Do Enough On The Cross?

Recently I received a question about a verse in Colossians 1. If the verse is read alone, one would perceive it to say that the Apostle Paul had to sacrifice to add to Jesus’ work on the cross.
This fact would mean that His sacrifice for our sins was not enough. The verse to which I am referring to in Colossians 1:24 in which the Apostle Paul states "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:”

When approaching a verse like this, one must first realise that there are difficult verses in the Bible. The Apostle Peter stated in
2 Peter 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” So there are going to be… Read the rest of the article…

Is the Septuagint a Corrupted Text? Answer: Yes

What is the Septuagint?

Read more about the Septuagint here)

The Septuagint is a Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament text, translated between 250-160 B.C. Modern scholars believe that this is a superior text and used by Jesus and the Apostles, but these are all assumptions. What do the facts truly say? Read the rest of the article…

Brilliant Bible Reading System

Recently I came across a brilliant, life changing,
Bible reading system. I have been so impressed with it that I wanted to write about it and tell others on the church blog. It is probably one of the best systems to get to know your Bible from front to back, inside and out. It is called...
Read the rest of the article…

Only One Life...

In 1860 a child was born to a wealthy English family and his name was C.T. Studd (Charles Thomas Studd).
C.T.Studd was saved during a revival meeting in England and known as a cricketer, but he was most noted for his missionary work in China. Following is an inspirational and convicting poem that he wrote during his lifetime.

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before…

Read the rest of the article…

Modern Day Pharisees

With even a casual read through the Gospels, you will find a group of individuals called the Pharisees. They continually pop up
here and there and most of the time challenging Jesus’ teachings. It is a common belief that the Pharisees were the ones who strictly followed the Bible and the Biblical laws. I would dare say that many of the Jews at the time of Christ also believed this to be the case. According to the Bible, what the Pharisees did was twist......
Read the rest of the article…