Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
(Psalm 119:105)


Volume 02, Number 19

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker HWY
Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
       (360) 752-2692

Bible Classes..........9:30 AM
Worship..10:30AM; 6:00PM

Bible Classes.........7:00 PM

Web site:
Mt. Baker church

Editor......John Bass


In this issue:

Are You a Legalist?
Brett W. Hogland

Most Christians have, at one time or another, been accused of being a “legalist”. Of course, the term legalist is used in derision intending that we would run backwards in horror of being connected with the denominational implications of this word. In most religious circles, the term legalist is connected to the Pharisees and its meaning is assigned as being necessarily devoid of love or any proper motive. Obviously then, no one wants to be characterized as a legalist. But have you ever stopped to think about what legalist really means?

What does “legalist” mean?

First, it is important to realize that this word is not even used in the Bible. Since the word is not found in the Bible, we will have to define it from the English language. Webster defines legal as: “deriving authority from or founded on law”; “conforming to or permitted by law or established rules”. So then, a legalist is one who derives his authority from law, or founds his authority on law. The true legalist conforms to the law or established rules. He does those things that are permitted by law or established rules. Now you will obviously see that, while this word is not found in the Bible, the concept of “legalist” is definitely found there (Col.3:17) (He.8:5) (Jo.4:24) (Mt.28:18-20)

  “…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”. It is also interesting that the concept of legalism or legalist is not used in derision in the Scriptures! We can often learn a lot about a term or a phrase by examining its antonym or opposite. The opposite of legal is illegal. There is no such word as “illegalist” (which is what our accusers really are) so what is a person who is not a legalist? We can see from the definition that one who is not a legalist is one who DOES NOT derive his authority from law. He DOES NOT conform to the law and DOES NOT do only those things permitted by law. The Bible actually has a term that describes a person who does not found his authority upon law – that term is “lawless”. This word is used in (Mt.7:23) where Jesus says “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”. The KJV translates this word “iniquity”. It is the Greek word anomia which means without law. A legalist conforms to law, thus one who is not a legalist is essentially without law or lawless – a spiritual outlaw! John tells us that “whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1Jo.3:4). The Bible tells us that Jesus “hated lawlessness” (He.1:9). Would that make Jesus a “legalist”? You see a legalist is not necessarily devoid of love or any proper motive.

     The word “legalist” simply describes a person who finds it important to conform to the proper law or authority. A man’s motive, love or lack thereof does not inhere in the word. There is no doubt that our motive to keep God’s law must be love (Mt.22:37), but love without law keeping is condemning (Lk.6:46) and really isn’t ‘love’ at all (Jo.14:15). Jesus did NOT rebuke the Pharisees for their strict attention to law. When He spoke of their tithing of mint, anise and cummin (Mt.23:23), He did not criticize their tithing but their failure to show mercy, justice and faith. Jesus said “these you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone”. We should not pursue law keeping and ignore justice, mercy and faith, but neither should we pursue justice and mercy while ignoring law keeping. Jesus never criticized law keeping, but rather, He himself kept the law perfectly. I ask again, was Jesus a legalist? I believe He was and I am satisfied to be as Jesus. The alternative to being a legalist is to be lawless, which is the reason that many who hate legalism will also tell us that we are not under law. This effort to escape the accountability of Christ’s law is lawlessness and lawlessness is sin. Are you a legalist or are you lawless?


Applying the Bible
Michael R. Baggett

A few years ago, I explained to a lady that not everything Jesus said to the Apostles has a direct application to us. The lady replied, "Well, I try to apply the Bible to me." I admire the willingness of one applying what the Bible says because it shows their willingness to obey God. However, when studying the Bible, we must use a little common sense just like we do when reading a newspaper or company manual. In short, every single sentence or comment written in the Bible does not directly apply to you and me.

When studying the Bible, we need to ask, "Who is speaking?" "Who is being addressed?" "How does this apply to me?"

For example, God told Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6:13ff). Now, who is speaking? God. Who is being spoken to here? Is God telling you or me to build an ark? Only Noah is being told to build an ark. You see, no matter how hard I try to apply this direct command to me, it just does not apply. Since I am not personally picked out to build an ark, how can it apply to me? 

We can, however, learn from the example of Noah: "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Hebrews 11:7). 

Like Noah, we will be commended by God if we "move with fear" by taking seriously what God tells us to do and do it with urgency. While we have not been told to build an ark, we are told many things in the New Testament such as the need to repent of sins (Luke 13:3,5); be baptized into Christ (Mark 16:16); worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24); and obey all things Christ has commanded whether in the gospel or through the writings of His holy Apostles (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 14:37; 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15; 2 Peter 3:1-2). 

Further, Jesus spoke made certain comments or statements to the Apostles, He had personally chosen, which were only intended for them. No matter how much we want to apply them to ourselves, it just does not apply to us. It will not work. For example, the Apostles were promised miraculous measures of power from the Holy Spirit which were not promised to you and me. Two examples are as follows:

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). Who did Jesus say something to personally? Who must Jesus be speaking to in the context? The Apostles are the only ones who are present with Jesus in this context who were told something, and the Holy Spirit will teach them and bring all things to their remembrance, whatever Jesus has already said to them. The second promise follows:

"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13).

Without meaning to sound offensive, reader, who is speaking? The context shows us this is Jesus. Now, who is Jesus speaking to directly in the context? It is the Apostles. Jesus told these Apostles that the comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, would teach them all truth and bring back to their remembrance what Jesus had already taught them. Has Jesus told you anything outside of the word of God? The Apostles would need inspiration to begin carrying out the Great Commission and to write the New Testament which is our inspired message from Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; 2:37). 

Paul an Apostle wrote: "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37). Paul says that his writings are the commandments of the Lord. Paul is informing all people reading this that the words of the apostles are the words of Christ. The reader needs to let this fact sink deep down into his or her ears.

Jesus told the Apostles that the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, would guide them into all truth and show them things to come. Not one person today is being guide into any kind of new truth because Jesus told the Apostles that would be accomplished with them (see Jude: 3). We are warned not to add to nor to take away from the Holy Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-19).

When people try to apply every statement Jesus made to the Apostles to themselves, they end up building doctrines Christ did not make and creating religious division. 

Please, study the Bible to see how its great truths apply to your life, but remember to study the Bible, "…Rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  05/07/2023

The Mount Baker Beacon is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.
Send all questions, comments to the editor, John Bass at (360) 325-5149 or