Beware the “Damnable Plus”
When it comes to our justification, we must be wary of anyone who replaces “Christ alone” with “Christ plus…” In this brief clip, Derek Thomas considers the subtle danger of relying on our works or preferences to obtain a righteous standing before God.
There were those who were saying that in order to be right with God, in order to be in a righteous standing with God, it wasn’t enough to believe in Jesus. Yes, you need to believe in Jesus, but you need to believe in Jesus “and…” You need to believe in Jesus “plus” observe the law, “plus” be circumcised, “plus” follow the dietary laws, “plus” obey the Jewish calendar, and “plus” and “plus” and “plus.” And that’s a damnable “plus” for Paul. It’s Jesus only. It’s solus Christus of the Reformation: by faith alone, in Christ alone, and apart from the works of the law. And those who were advocating the necessity to obey the law were preaching a different “gospel,” a “gospel” that isn’t a gospel, a “gospel” that isn’t good news. It’s the gospel “plus” tradition. For us, it might be something a little different, a little more subtle. It’s the gospel “plus” a certain degree of emotional reaction to your sin, a certain quality of repentance. The gospel “plus” the King James version. The gospel “plus” women should wear hats in church. The gospel “plus” you must do it this way and not that way. The gospel “plus” a worship style that conforms more to prejudice than to principle. And so on. It can be very subtle, and it creeps in. It creeps in by little gossipy statements that we make. “You know that church that we went to, that group of Christians? You know, they didn’t do X or they didn’t do Y.” And these are not issues of first principle. These are secondary things. They’re issues of prejudice. Before long we’re saying, “You cannot possibly be a Christian unless you do X or you do Y or you do Z.” And Paul is addressing that subtlety.