It turns out I’m a real antinomian.
That’s a ten-dollar-word. Antinominian means being “against” (anti) “the law” (nomos).
Now, there are different ways of being against the Law, so there are different definitions of antinomianism.
Here’s one definition:
“We speak of the real Antinomians, who assert that the Law is unnecessary to conversion” (Rosenius, A Faithful Guide to Peace with God, p. 28).
What does Rosenius mean?
According to him, to be genuinely converted (or genuinely born-again), the Law must convict you of sin first. You cannot go straight to the promise of life. You first have to go through the Law.
This is also called preparationism. Every believer must go through the same pattern of preparation before coming to faith in Christ. No exceptions. Otherwise, your faith is not genuine. If you deny that, you’re an antinomian.
Well, I deny that. I deny preparationism. I guess that makes me an antinomian.
I would agree with Rosenius that the Law can help bring someone to faith in Christ. In fact, I would say it is often necessary. People won’t believe that Jesus died for their sins if they do not believe they have sins to die for. People won’t believe in a Savior, if they don’t believe they need saving. So the Law often has to break up the rough ground before the seed of the gospel will bear fruit. Paul says that’s what the Law is for (e.g., Gal 3:24). It can be part of your pre-evangelism experience. In fact, that’s how I came to faith. The Ten Commandments didn’t really bother me. But when I started reading the Sermon on the Mount over and over again, I realized the total demand that God made upon me. He wanted holiness in thoughts, emotions, desires, and actions. I became deeply convicted of my sin and ripe to hear the message of justification by faith alone.
But not everyone has to go through that process. If my kids come to faith in Jesus for eternal life, they may not have to go through that process. My five-year-old daughter doesn’t need to go through weeks and months of morbid introspection before believing in Jesus. She can go straight to His promise of life and be eternally saved.
How do I know? Because of what I read in John’s Gospel. It shows me how Jesus evangelized. And when He did, He didn’t preach the Law first. He offered people eternal life straight away. Now, if they resisted, then He dealt with them in different ways. He rebuked Nicodemus for not knowing what he should. He rebuked the woman at the well for adultery and false worship. But He started with the promise.
That Law is good. The Law is useful. It can be an important tool in pre-evangelism. It’s also a helpful guide to believers to know what it means to love our neighbors. But it’s not indispensable to salvation. Salvation comes through faith in Christ, apart from the Law. No legal preparation necessary.