There are four soul-killing mistakes I often see when trying to understand the Gospel:
The rejection of all law/rules. This belief is that the introduction of any commands or calls to action/obedience undermine the Gospel. ?But the antinomian goes too far and throws out the baby with the bath water. ?While we properly reject a works salvation, Jesus does call His disciples to actually follow Him, surrender to Him, and be obedient to Him. ?Those who embrace such a position tend to like Jesus as savior, but reject Him as Lord.
The embrace of a new law and a works salvation. These are folks who reject Old Testament law (the 613 commandments of the Torah), but embrace all kinds of new legalisms and laws required to follow in order to "be saved". ?There is no GOOD NEWS in this kind of legalistic approach and it is what the Apostle Paul ranted against again and again. ?Salvation is a free, un-earned gift — that no man may boast!
The belief that we causally effect our own salvation. ?This one is a more subtle problem. ?This position is that we are causally effective in our salvation. ?We are not. ?A part from Jesus, we are dead and dead people don't save themselves… even a little bit. ?Jesus is our all-in-all and totally sufficient for our salvation and life.
The belief that the Gospel is only or primarily about individual/personal salvation as opposed to the coming of the Kingdom of God. For this person, the Gospel is reduced to "praying the prayer" and "getting a ticket into heaven."
All of these fail to capture the power, mystery, grace and beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. ?And all contain some truth — but fail because they get the order of operations wrong. ?Just as in math, the order of the equation matters.
The key word that Paul uses to describe this reality is in Romans 12:1. ?"Therefore," he says. ?Therefore is about the order of operations.
The first 8 chapters of Romans lays out an argument for how and why salvation in Christ works. ?Chapters 9-11 are a case study (of sorts) about Israel and salvation. And chapters 12-16, starting with "Therefore", is the "what now" argument.
I have often been accused of being both a antinomian and a legalist (by different people). ?Because of my strong emphasis (though no stronger than Paul's!) on grace, people think that I argue that your behavior doesn't matter or that you shouldn't change after becoming a Christian.
But I have also always preached a strong message of repentance, change, and action. ?So I am sometimes accused of secretly being a legalist. ?And because I am a passionate evangelist, who does call people to make a decision for Christ, I am also accused of being a pelagian and of holding a soterological view of the Gospel.
But it is all about ORDER OF OPERATIONS.
And Paul sets this up in Romans for us.
We are saved by grace and faith alone in the work and character of Jesus Christ.
Add nothing. ?Nothing else required.
We are saved. ?Both as individuals and as a community.
And having been saved, we are called to live a life worthy of the gospel, IN RESPONSE to what GOD HAS ALREADY DONE — not so that He will do anything. ?He saves, therefore we worship with our lives, surrendering to his Lordship, obedient to his commands.
But if we get the order wrong, we get the Gospel very messed up.