Lip Service Doesn’t Fulfill the Law
It’s not right doctrine or the Law that saves us, but the Lord Jesus Christ within, Who makes us a living testimony of both doctrine and the Law. “I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires” (Matthew 5:20 GNB).
We received this note:
I was wondering if you know a Mike Vinson as he seems to have a lot of the same beliefs. Also I am curious as to how you came to your current beliefs and if there are certain authors that have helped you? Thanks, James
We’ve had correspondence with Mike Vinson and L. Ray Smith, his late ministry partner, who recently died of cancer.
Though we and they have preached that God will save all men, Vinson and Smith are erring Universalists whom we have confronted. Read The Deadly Error of the Universalists and False Teacher: L. Ray Smith – Trying to Make Bread Without Flour.
You may also read L. Ray Smith’s Faulty Interpretation of the Rich Man and Lazarus. No doubt, Mike Vinson would see things the way Smith saw them.
Over the years God has used several people to teach and to speak to me, here and there; however, only the Lord can impart spiritual truth to any person. The flesh profits nothing; the Spirit quickens. He has been our Teacher. If we hadn’t taken up the cross and looked to the Lord for the Truth, we wouldn’t have learned what we now possess for ourselves (having our own oil), which we presently share with many.
In terms of doctrine, much, if not most, of the truth the Lord has taught us over the past decades is available on our site. Look to the Lord and not men, James. It’s not about doctrine or knowledge, unless it’s personal knowledge of Him, which comes by His grace, faith, and obedience to His commands.
He’s what it’s all about and where it’s at. Looking to Him, He’ll quicken to you what you need, whether by us or by other channels.
At the time this letter was written we didn’t know that Mike had a falling out with Ray before Ray passed away. Not that it makes any difference, because the division didn’t come by either of them taking up the cross and walking in the light with the Lord. There was a doctrinal disagreement on a certain matter, which is often the catalyst for church splits. Both men were in the wrong, because not standing with the Right.
But here is something edifying – the correspondence Victor mentioned with Mike and Ray, wherein we answer Mike’s accusation that we are operating under the Law, not grace. (We don’t provide Mike’s full letter here, though we quote from it throughout, providing context. His letter is available upon request. The previous correspondence referred to here, or most of it, is posted in L. Ray Smith.)
Greetings to you, Mike, and to Ray, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ,
I hope we can make things very clear. One of the reasons that things are not clear is because you aren’t reading carefully what we have been saying. Mike, you’re irresponsible in wasting our time, not having red what we’ve discussed in the correspondence to date. Had you honestly red it, there is no doubt you wouldn’t be able to say many of the things you say here.
You assume where we’re coming from and the meaning of our words, and thus accuse us falsely. On the other hand, we have indeed red Ray’s writings and his letter to Hagee, which has much truth. I’m not saying, however, that there are not differences between us, because there certainly are.
We will attempt to communicate as clearly as possible with you, and I hope that for your sake you’ll read carefully and responsibly that which we write to you. Unless the Lord gives you the grace and faith to understand, however, you can be as intelligent, educated, knowledgeable, and studious of the Scriptures as you wish, and it will avail nothing. We know this.
What we have received, we have not received by the works of the Law, but by revelation from the Spirit of Christ. We know this. So much for our being under, or trusting in, the Law.
I will give you far more evidence to refute your charges. I will also give you sure testimony, not by the Law, but by the grace of God, that you boys are in significant error.
I will begin with your summation in the last paragraph, and from there, go to the beginning of your letter and continue throughout, point by point. You write:
“The old is not better than the new, and it does not agree with the new. In Christ we are not under the old. To say that it does agree with the old and that we are under it, and that it is for us, is to argue with Christ Himself. That is not an enviable position to be in.”
You are in error on several points:
When it comes to wine, most often the old and aged is much better. All you need to do is speak to wine connoisseurs and they’ll tell you so. Drink both and find out for yourself if you must. That is not to say that there are not tasty new wines. The illustration is not saying differently.
You’re wrong when you say that the old does not agree with the new. That idea is nowhere in the Scriptures. I see you two reading into what is said, saying it says this or that, when it says no such thing. Let’s just deal with what is there. You also read into what we say. Your indoctrination and preconceived notions deceive and blind you.
If Jesus said He fulfilled the Law, how can you say that the old doesn’t agree with the new? If the Law is “holy and good and true” and God is the Author of the Law, how can you say that it doesn’t agree with the Spirit of Grace? You err, boys, you err.
We have never said that we are or should be under the Law, or that those who have received the Spirit and walk by faith are under the Law. You have made false assumptions. Read ALL that we have written to you, both in our personal letters to you, and what is on our site. Nowhere will you find evidence to support your assertions of us. Read our testimonies, and tell us if our spiritual conversions and odyssey in Christ Jesus speak of being under Law. You will not find that.
Furthermore, we haven’t regressed to a former state, as did the Galatians for a time, under the influence of Judaizers who promoted ceremonial law (such as circumcision), I assure you.
We are saying that the Law is for all. (Bear with me, Mike and Ray.) The misunderstanding can come in how the Law relates to each of us. By “us,” I mean those who have been given the Spirit of grace to keep, obey, establish, and honor the Law of God. We keep the Law by nature through Christ in us. That is the work of grace.
The Law is also present for those who have not received the Spirit, guiding, convicting, and demonstrating their need for grace. The Law, one way or another, is always there. Our contention for the true faith once delivered unto the saints is with those who trash the Law, saying it was replaced or done away. I will prove to you that such is not the case.
That takes care of your last paragraph, Mike.
We have found, with spiritual website operators and leaders, that they are almost invariably protecting their own turf, biased and unwilling to seriously review their positions or consider that they have something to learn. I perceive that they are afraid of being wrong, which tells me they are wrong, or they would not display such defensiveness and insecurity.
Three decades ago, in witnessing older men set in their ways, incapable of learning any more, I prayed earnestly to God that He keep me from EVER being that way. That has been my constant prayer to this day. I perceived that they were protecting their positions, proud, rusted out, unable to function any longer, thinking they had it all. I hope that isn’t your case. You may think it’s ours. The Lord has kept us, though. Ray’s initial reaction was defensive, based on erroneous assessment of our words, and you, Mike are defending him without knowledge.
Let’s go back to the beginning of your letter. You write:
“…allow me to point out that you quote a thousand old covenant verses about the law as if the NEW covenant were not new at all. You quote the old covenant as if IT were grace and truth. Paul, Victor, if that were true what does this verse mean?
Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Christ quoted continuously from the Old Testament, then after the resurrection and Pentecost, so did His disciples. Those Scriptures weren’t rendered obsolete; they were given meaning and fulfilled in those who received the Spirit. As Jesus said, “The Scripture cannot be broken.”
While the ceremonial law had its day, the moral Law of God remains, though even in the ceremonies, the moral Law was present, being the expression of the nature and character of God.
You ask that we read your writings. We have, and we tell you so, truthfully. We haven’t red everything, but have red all that you asked us to read, all that you have written to us, and more besides. Have you red our article, Law and Grace? If you had, you wouldn’t justifiably say what you say in this paragraph under discussion.
You greatly err in your interpretation of John 1:17, as do most. It isn’t difficult to prove the error.
Correct me if I am wrong, but it appears you assume that grace and truth replaced the Law. The Scripture doesn’t say that. Moses represented the container, if you will, and Christ the contents, which He is. Moses represented the requirement, and Christ the provision. Moses defined the need, and Jesus Christ fulfilled it.
Moses brought forth the question, and Jesus Christ provided the answer. Moses introduced, and Christ spoke. Moses manifested the shadow, Christ the Substance producing the shadow. Moses broke the ground, and Jesus Christ sowed the seed.
Law was and is not contrary to the Truth in any way. The container is useless without the contents, and the contents need the container. Do you understand? If not, try. God help you.
There is no disagreement between the Law of God and Truth. Jesus said in John 17, “Thy Word is Truth.” He quoted the Law and the prophets. Throughout the Scriptures, but poignantly in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119, the Law was blessed, honored, praised, loved, and glorified, for it describes the character of God. The Law of God and the character of God are one, inseparable, and not in any way in disagreement. The Law of God is Truth, and the Truth of God is Law. How can you argue against this?
As for grace, Moses had grace, just as Noah, who found grace in God’s sight (Genesis 6:8). Those who receive the Spirit become children of Abraham. Do you think Abraham didn’t have faith or grace? If so, think again.
Jesus said that Abraham had seen His day and rejoiced in it. Does that sound like someone under the Law? Paul in Romans describes the faith that Abraham had, and the favor he had with God, apart from the works of the Law. Where are you two? You quote Galatians and Romans as though Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses were under the Law, but the truth is they had grace. On the other side of the coin, today, after the resurrection, we have Law while having grace.
Grace is the ability to keep the Law. (Read Grace – The Reality.)
What does Paul say at the end of Romans 7? Read it:
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself with the mind serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25 EMTV).
Boys, what do you do with that? I am sure you can find a way. Yes, you have shared the Scriptures that you have. We know them, understand them, and agree with them, but you are wrong in your interpretation of them.
Now another confusion occurs for some (I think you’re included, though you say otherwise) in that they put everything only into historical context. They think that the Law was done away two thousand years ago and is no longer needful or relevant. We say, “Not true.” We say that the Law of God is prevalent, applicable where and how necessary, and ever relevant, one way or another.
Now I know that you seem to teach, Ray, that there is a place for Law until we come to maturity, and therefore it wasn’t done away, historically. However, you think that upon reaching maturity in Christ, there is no more Law. You err. We say that each must experience the Old Testament in the spiritual journey of our lives, not in terms of ordinances, but in the requirement and impossible burden to the flesh of the Law, as described by Paul in Romans 7.
Romans 7:22-24 EMTV
(22) For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.
(23) But I see a different law in my members, waging war against the law of my mind, and capturing me by the law of sin which is in my members.
(24) O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Most assume Paul was speaking of his pre-Christ experiences under the Law. Not so. Before his conversion, Paul understood nothing. Think about it… he couldn’t die when he was already dead in his sins. He didn’t see himself in a body of death, but was convinced he was right, even to the point of killing God’s saints. No, Paul learned these things after conversion and receiving the Spirit. Then he was taken through a process of fire and death. “He will baptize you with the Spirit and with fire….”
You then write: “When God opens your eyes to the Truth of John 1:17 you will turn from the ‘law of Moses’….”
I have shown you, whether you see or not, that what you believe about John 1:17 is what most evangelicals believe, and they are wrong. I have shown you the Truth of John 1:17, but it will take the grace of God to open your eyes. As Moses, I bring forth the letter, which will work to destroy the old. The letter does indeed kill, and rightly so, but only because the old needs to be destroyed. That is where you are. Only Christ, Whom we preach, can give you the essence, the life. Those who have ears to hear will hear Him and live.
You argue the definition of the word “everlasting.” We well understand the meaning of the word in the KJV and how it applies. We understand that the ceremonies and circumcision and the Levitical priesthood and the sacrifices were not to be “everlasting” as that word is used in general. They lasted as long as they needed to. We have no argument with you, though you, Mike, assume otherwise.
And your supposition and argument don’t take away from the fact that God’s Law is eternal.
As it is written:
“The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making the simple wise. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the LORD are pure, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether, more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. And Your servant is warned by them; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalms 19:7-11 MKJV).
Perfect, sure, right, pure, giving light, clean, true and righteous, bringing great reward in the keeping of them. Does anything pass away if perfect?
Mike and Ray, when the apostle Paul spoke of the Law to the Galatians, Romans, and others, he wasn’t speaking of the Law being imperfect or failing, though you judge it this way. If Paul were doing so, he would have been contradicting God’s Word as quoted above. But he was talking about the KEEPING of the Law by the flesh as imperfect, failing to accomplish the desired and required result. When it’s written, “For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:19 MKJV), the inspired writer is speaking of gaining perfection and keeping the Law through Christ, to Whom we come through tutorship of the Law.
Here is the Roman’s verse you quoted but didn’t perceive:
“But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death….” The Spirit of Christ keeps the Law in us.
“…For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…” Again, it is about the keeping of it, which we in the flesh cannot do.
“…God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; so that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4 MKJV).
Fulfilled, not done away, not set aside, not trashed, like you do with the Fourth Commandment (the Sabbath), and thus all. This is no mere misunderstanding. But you say you don’t teach that the Law is done away:
“Neither Ray nor I teach that the law is done away ‘for the lawless and the disobedient.’ ‘Yea we establish the law… for the lawless… to bring us to Christ.’ But here is where you two are presently leaving company with Paul and Christ and Ray Smith and me… ‘After that faith [Christ] is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster [law of Moses].’”
What you say and what you do are two different things. We wouldn’t need to speak to you of these things if you were clean of your sins. You would uphold and honor the Law, graciously preaching the fulfilment of it, rather than fighting us. In your defence to Paul, Ray, you say the Law is for the immature. Where do you draw the line of maturity? Do you two consider yourselves mature? Obviously. But are you? By whose judgment? Yours?
You say we preach being under the Law, which we don’t, and we say you do away with the Law, which you say you don’t. Could it be that there is simply a gross misunderstanding with each of us? I would like to know that, and I would like to have the glory of being the one to bridge the gap here, not primarily by making you understand us, but by our coming to understand you and helping you understand us.
However, I find that you are devaluating the Law of God. Yes, you acknowledge that the Law is still useful, for the lawless. Agreed. Yes, you say the Law is fulfilled in us. If by “us,” you mean those who have been given the Spirit and the power to keep the moral Law (not ceremony, ritual, and feasts), agreed again. But if you don’t see the presence and glory of the Law in, with, by, and for, us in Christ, then I’m right in saying you don’t know the Lawmaker, Who is Law/Truth/Grace Incarnate.
The Law is perfect. Therefore grace isn’t a matter of replacing the Law, but of replacing us, who are imperfect. “We are new creatures in Christ. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” We are saved by the Lawmaker, Law Incarnate, from Whom the Law proceeded as His nature and will. By being born anew in Him, we become Law Incarnate ourselves. For this cause, He isn’t ashamed to call us His brethren – holy and undefiled. Mike and Ray, are you “replaced”? Or do you see the Law as replaced? I think the latter. It is you who must go, not the Law.
You are lawless if you maintain the position we say you do, and therefore you yet have need of conversion. Right doctrine, even if you have it, isn’t enough. We speak of something very different, and you aren’t even aware of what we’re saying.
We aren’t preaching that which Judaizers preach or that which the evangelical world preaches or that which Catholics preach or that which Mormons preach or any other we know of. If any preach what we preach, please introduce them to us. We ask you earnestly. We would love to meet them. We don’t believe you know any others who preach what we preach. You may think you know, but I am quite sure you will be mistaken. Yes, it is possible there are others… very possible. We can only say that we have not met or heard of them.
“The Scripture,” Jesus said, “cannot be broken” (John 10:35), speaking of Scripture in its entirety. Neither can it be done away or replaced.
Grace is the empowerment, by virtue of a new nature born from above, to keep the Law of God. The keeping of the Law of God, however, is not the end-all, else we would be worshiping less than God. The end-all is knowing Him. And it’s written that without holiness, no man shall see God. How can those who are lawless have fellowship with Him? How can we be lawful without Him? We can’t. That He makes it happen is grace. God concluded all under sin, that He might have mercy on all.
I declare that I must speak these things to you, not so that you will at this time understand, but because you have never known Him Who is the Law. You have preached grace in word, but you have never experienced or understood the Spirit of Grace, Who is the Lord Jesus Christ. You preach grace because you find it impossible to keep the Law and have no godly desire to do so. Therefore you have written off the Law, taking on grace as theory, supposing you are thus saved. Ray and Mike, you have never known the Lord Jesus Christ. We are notifying you that there is much more than what you have or realize.
You will be incredulous, upset, scornful, or shaking your heads at me for saying so, but that is what I need to say to you, by the Spirit of God. You will know in due time. My words, in and of Christ, will judge and lead you there by conviction, by the Law, through the cross, into the grave, and unto the resurrection, by grace.
As of now you serve the prince of this world, who comes as an angel of light. We don’t condemn you for that. We have compassion for you, though you may revile us for it, thinking we are spiritual dupes, without understanding, but we know whereof we speak, because we know Him. You, in all your website, do not boldly, confidently declare that you know Him, because you do not.
Knowing Him is what it’s all about. It’s not about the Law, though it will never pass (Matthew 5:18). It’s not about the reconciliation of all things, though that will be. It’s not about convincing you of my understanding or convincing me of yours. It’s all about knowing Him. We know Him, and therefore we speak, as did all those before us who know Him. Yes, you are right about all those men who preach another gospel, like Hagee and Copeland – the list is long – you are right about the reconciliation of all things, and you are right about other things, but you don’t know Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will one day bestow true grace upon you.
Are you still with me, or now gone? You write:
“Ray points out that ‘the law of Christ,’ is far superior to what ‘you have heard that it hath been said by them of old time.’
Neither of you even bother to respond to this very valid point. Neither of you have even read what Ray believes. If you had you would not have accused him of, ‘tossing out the law….’”
Several points on that paragraph:
It is Ray who has delayed or failed communication with us, thus far.
There are many points to which you two have not replied, so how is it you criticize us? Why do you boys not practice what you preach? WE WILL SEE HOW HONESTLY YOU BOTHER TO READ MY LETTER, LINE BY LINE.
Why do you accuse us of not bothering to reply to your points? This point in particular was not even made by Ray in his letter to us. If by some chance we missed a point, it wasn’t our intention to avoid it. If that point was missed thus far in our correspondence, it no longer will be after this letter.
Ray is in error by saying that there were two laws. That is a foolish and ignorant deduction. The Law of Moses was and is the Law of Christ. Jesus simply brought forth the full meaning of the Law to His hearers. He illumined it, demonstrating to those listening that they couldn’t keep the Law and live in their own righteousness. There is no suggestion in Scripture of your conclusions, which are erroneous.
It is a false accusation to say that we have not red what Ray believes, as I have solemnly pointed out.
Ray, and you by identification, Mike, did indeed toss out the Law. Paul said Ray did so. Ray said Paul accused him of saying he was trashing the law. That is not true. In fact (read the correspondence) Paul said that Ray was doing so, not just saying he was doing so. Read his reply MORE CAREFULLY AND OBJECTIVELY, WILL YOU? I copy it here:
Paul responds: “I never said that you made any statement such as, ‘we should throw away the commandments…’ I said that is what you are doing.”
How did Ray trash the Law? Ray has followed Constantine, the Roman Catholic Church, the harlot religious system of Babylon, and trashed the Sabbath, as shown here in a reply to a correspondent on his site:
“As the Sabbath command was part of the Old Covenant Law, which Paul went to great length to inform us that we are no longer under … it makes little difference which day is the Sabbath of Israel. The Sabbath like ALL aspects of the law of Moses and the law of God, the Torah, the Old Testament, was a shadow of something to come.”
You trash the Fourth Commandment without any substantiation whatsoever from Scripture. You seem to have disrespect not only for the Law, but for the Old Testament, the only Bible they knew in “New Testament” days, which they searched to confirm their new faith and life in Christ. To this Paul replied, which you pass over:
“By grace, Paul said, we establish the law (Romans 3:31). The law was not done away with. Jesus warned against such thinking. He said: ‘Think not that I have come to destroy the Law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill’ (Matt. 5:17).”
Ray trashes the Law of God, and so do you, Mike. By doing so, you tell others to do so. Actions speak louder than words. If you trash one Law, you trash all, as James says. In trashing the Law, you trash the Lawmaker. That is why I say that you have never known grace, and you have never known the One full of grace and truth, the Holy, Almighty Lawmaker.
You think we don’t know that the Lord got angry? Of course He did! Have we gotten angry? Of course we have, both unrighteously and righteously. We have no argument with that. We are not without understanding as you so vividly assume. What we do say is that Ray’s angry reaction was not a righteous one, not at all. He reacted in ignorance and false conclusions. You need to re-read the correspondence, with humility and sobriety. All you have done is go in with blinders and defend your turf. You will not justify your faults and sins by saying, “We’re only doing what the Lord did.” He is not deceived; in Him, neither are we.
Boys, nobody has confronted you on your sins and shortfall like this before. You have had many come against you, falsely accusing you, giving you stupid arguments, presuming to know what the Bible says, being grossly ignorant of the Scriptures, erring grievously, not knowing the Lord, and proud of their “knowledge” and “spirituality.” You may place us in the same boat with them, but sooner or later, you will find you were wrong.
Victor Hafichuk and Paul Cohen