The three methods of trying to live the Christian life

From his teaching on Galatians
Dr. J. Vernon McGee

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

There are 3 methods of trying to live the Christian life—two will not work. One is a life of legalism, which Paul has been discussing. The other is the life of license, which Paul discussed in Romans 6. You may fall into sin, but you will get out of it.

The 3rd method iof living the Christian life is the life of liberty. The remainder of Dr. McGee’s teaching in this chapter of Galatians will give the modus operandi for living by liberty. The life of legalism includes the 10 Commandments plus a set of regulations that Bible believers follow today. They will tell you where you can’t go and what you can’t do. Like, don’t use make-up, don’t wear this, etc. Do things which please the Lord, but do them because you love him, not in order to keep the law.

“Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” It is grace, not law, that frees us from doing wrong and allows us to do right. Grace does not set us free to sin, but it sets us free from sin. The believer should desire to please God, not because he is a slave, but because he is a son and he wills to please his father. He does what God wants, not because he fears to do otherwise like an enemy, but because he wants to do it, for God is his friend. God is the One who loves him. He serves God, not because of pressure from without such as the law, but because of a great principle within—even the life of Christ that is within him.

We serve God because we love him. The whole basis of obedience is a love relationship to Him. The law never could bring us to that place. It was negative to begin with. It produced negative goodness—which is a kind of goodness many have today. Negative goodness is legal goodness. You can say, “I don’t do this and I don’t do that.” But what do you do? All these systems produce negative goodness. They never rise to the sphere of positive goodness where one does things to please God for the very love of pleasing Him. He wants us to serve Him on that basis.

Putting the Lighted Candle under a Basket: The Shame of Many “Unregistered” Churches (Churches under Christ Alone)

Jerald Filnney
Copyright © May 28, 2022

“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:33-36); See also, Matthew 5:14-5; Mark 4:21-22; Luke 8:16-18.

Bible Doctrine of the Church

According to God, what is a church that Jesus builds? I believe that  Christ would like believers to know the answer to this question to which so much of His Word is devoted to answering. Not only does Christ wish believers to know the answer to this question, He wishes them to practice the answer and to shine the light of that truth upon the church, other churches, and the world. See, e.g. 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:7. Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 1:79, 2:32, 8:16, 11:33-36, 12:3; John 3:19, 21, 8:12, 11:10; Acts 13:47, 26:18; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:8, 13; Colossians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:5

The local church is preeminent to Christ. Christ lets us know how important the church is to Him. He tells us, for example, that:

  • He purchased the church “with his own blood” (Acts 20:28);
  • A church is espoused to Christ. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
  • He wishes to be the only authority over His churches (See, e.g., Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18).

Are believers and churches ashamed to practice and declare God’s revelations and principles? The Apostle Paul certainly was not, starting with the” gospel of Christ,” “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). But Paul’s dedication did not stop with declarations and actions concerning the gospel of Christ. Paul boldly proclaimed and taught all that God entrusted to Him. God committed to Paul the unfolding of the “doctrines of grace which were latent in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul originates nothing, but unfolds everything, concerning the nature and purpose of the law; the ground and means of the believer’s justification, sanctification, and glory; the meanings of the death of Christ, and the position, walk, expectation, and service of the Christian.”

God, by revelation, made known to Paul the mystery of the church (Ephesians 3:2-12). Paul wrote that complete revelation in His Epistles so that God’s children and churches “may understand” God’s knowledge concerning the churches. God’s Pauline epistles:

  • “develop the doctrine of the church. In seven letters to Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica), the church, the ‘mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God’ (Ephesians 3:9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God.”

Through the Pauline epistles:

  • “we know that a church is not an organization, but an organism., the body of Christ; instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise and destiny. Through those epistles alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings.”

Most pastors and other mature members of the churches that the Biblical Law Center and this ministry have helped to organize according to Christ’s will veil their light concerning church organization. They are ashamed of what they have done. They are unwilling to follow the example of the Apostle Paul. Some reasons for their reluctance include:

  • Failure to study the doctrine and the application of the doctrine.
  • Inability to teach or choice not to teach the doctrine.
  • Fear of offending immature, disruptive, and/or prospective church members.
  • Fear of offending other churches and pastors with whom they associate.
  • Their agenda leaves no time for the study, teaching, and application of the doctrine.
  • They teach again the  “first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” to new believers but forget that some “are of full age, even those who be reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” See Hebrews 5:11-6:3.

Both doctrine and application are emphasized in Scripture. Without wisdom (the right use or exercise of knowledge), knowledge has no effect and is useless or even counterproductive. Churches lose the power of, and cause unbelievers, to blaspheme God, resulting in salvation of fewer and fewer souls.

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:4-5). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). The commandments are in the word of God, but they are not the word of God. The word of God is much more than commandments. For example, within the word of God are principles. Bible church doctrine is extensive and comprehensive. It includes principles which God desires to be understood, taught, and practiced.

Christ said that He loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He did not command that a church love Him, but obviously His word makes clear in His word that He wants every church to love Him. Love must be a choice; it can be commanded, as it was under the law. However, the law proved that commanding love does not produce love. Even those under the law chose to love God because of their hearts, not because of the commandment. Believers should be diligent to remember that the love of God is perfected in those who keep His word.

Sin can be by commission. Sin can also be by omission: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We should all strive to be in God’s perfect will, which means trying to keep God’s word without omission.

Therefore, from this point on, all churches who wish the help of this ministry must, in advance, agree to shine their light by practicing the spirit and actions of the following excerpt from the Resolution to Adopt the Declaration of Trust.:

“WHEREAS: The church body of [Name of Church], a local New Testament church—in order to perpetually benefit, educate, and set an example for present and future members of [Name of Church], other churches, the general public, and the world—desires to execute and implement comprehensive documents which obey, glorify, and please God by, among other matters:

  1. “Declaring the New Testament Bible doctrines and principles upon which [Name of Church] relies for church organization under Christ and Him alone.
  2. “Declaring Bible doctrines and principles concerning church, state, and the God-ordained relationship between church and state.
  3. “Declaring the American legal basis upon which [Name of Church] relies for church organization under the authority of Christ and Him alone.
  4. “Declaring the elements of the irrevocable common law trust.
  5. “Defining the nature of the irrevocable common law trust, a relationship with property only, a non-legal entity which conforms to Bible doctrine, principle, and example.”

They must agree from their heart, because they love the Lord, that they will give copies of the trust documents to all past, present, and future church members or the heads of families. They must, in advance, desire and agree to make sure that all church members—past, present, and future—will be taught the Bible doctrine of the church and the application of that doctrine. They must desire to show their love for the lord by putting their candles on a candlestick. If they choose not to agree to these matters, they are still free to execute their own organization as their heart leads. This ministry is here to help those who agree. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

Local churches who keep God’s word are to shine for all the world to see. When one puts a candle under a basket, the candle is hidden and lack of oxygen may, and I believe will, extinguish the candle.

Note. This does not apply to churches who have already been helped by the Biblical Law Center or this ministry.