Grace in the Book of Romans Part 2 -- By: Roy L. Aldrich

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 097:387 (Jul 1940)
Article: Grace in the Book of Romans Part 2
Author: Roy L. Aldrich


Grace in the Book of Romans
Part 2

Roy L. Aldrich

(Concluded from the April-June Number, 1940)

Romans and Legalism.

The relationship between the gospel and the law of Moses constitutes one of the most important doctrinal questions in the New Testament. Legalism, or Galatianism, seems to be the most persistent and widespread of all errors. It is the only error against which a whole book of the New Testament is written. While the citadel of defense against legalism is Galatians, it will be discovered that Romans contains also a rather complete doctrine of anti-legalism. The law is mentioned in all but two of the first eleven chapters of Romans.

Legalism generally appears in one of two ways. First, it may be claimed that the law is the means of justification, or at least one of the conditions of salvation. This form of legalism is most easily answered. It is disposed of indirectly by Romans 1:16, which teaches clearly that the one condition of salvation is faith. It is disposed of directly and decisively by Romans 3:20, 21, 28. Verse twenty presents the negative point of view, namely, that no flesh can be justified by the law, while the other verses present the positive point of view, namely, that justification is by faith apart from the law. All of this is further enforced in chapter four by the example of Abraham, the father of the faithful from both Jews and Gentiles, who received the promise through faith and not law, Romans 4:13–16. Moreover, it is only by the principle of grace that God could make the promise sure to Abraham and his seed.

Second, it may be claimed that the law is a means of sanctification, that the believer is not justified by the law, but

his life is to be governed by the law after he is justified. This form of legalism is refuted indirectly by Romans 5:2, where it is taught that the justified believer stands in grace and not law. It is refuted directly by Romans 6:15, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” It will be conceded that the subject of this chapter is sanctification. The subject of the believer’s relationship to the law is continued in chapter seven, where it is pointed out that he is “dead to the law” and “delivered from the law,” verses 4–6. There are some who seek to escape Paul...

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