Tag Archive | Law

The Law Kills; The Gospel Gives Life

Charles Hodge, Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:6,

“The law, in every form, moral or Mosaic, natural or revealed, kills. In demanding works as the condition of salvation, it must condemn all sinners. But the gospel, whether as revealed in the promise to Adam after his fall, or in the promise to Abraham, or in the writings of Moses, or in its full clearness in the New Testament, gives life. As the old covenant revealed both the law and the gospel, it either killed or gave life, according to the light in which it was viewed. And therefore Paul sometimes says it does the one, and sometimes the other. But the spirit giveth life. The spirit, or the gospel, gives life in a sense correlative to that in which the letter (i.e. the law) kills. 1. By revealing a righteousness adequate to our justification, and thus delivering us from the sentence of death. 2. By producing the assurance of God’s love and the hope of his glory in the place of a dread of his wrath. 3. By becoming, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, an inward principle or power transforming us into the image of God; instead of a mere outward command.”

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/why-does-limited-atonement-matter.87650/page-2, Comment 51

A Gospel Law

Archibald Hall, A Treatise on the Faith and Influence of the Gospel, pp. 104-105:

“It is a capital mistake in this opinion, that the gospel is blended with the law; and upon the ruins of both the law and the gospel, a new mode of divine administration is contrived, under the name of gospel laws. The law and the gospel are entirely distinct from one another, and ought never to be confounded together. A gospel law is a contradiction in terms; for the works of the law and the grace of the gospel stand opposed to one another in the great concerns of our justification before God. To compound the sincere endeavours of men with the grace of God, is to destroy the perfection of the law, and to subvert the sovereignty of saving grace, at one bold stroke. If such a scheme be once admitted, the divine law will no longer exhibit the perfection of beauty that is essential to the eternal God; and the glorious gospel will no longer reveal the riches of his sovereign grace, whereby he has mercy on whom he will have mercy. This dangerous innovation sets aside the necessity of knowing and believing the truths of God, by resting the whole of a man’s salvation upon the sincerity of his intentions to please his Maker, whatever his principles may be; and it opens the door to licentiousness of practice, by representing the Lawgiver as demanding only that which is upright, not that which is perfect. Upon the whole, this doctrine concerning a new law is a gross perversion of Christianity.”

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/why-does-limited-atonement-matter.87650/page-2, Comment 48

The Division of the Old Testament Law

Tom Hicks, Founders Ministries:

Are believers in Christ required to obey any part of Old Testament law? Both Dispensationalists and proponents of New Covenant Theology, or Progressive Covenantalism, as one version of it has come to be called, simply say “no.” In their view, the laws of the Old Testament are fulfilled and abrogated in Christ. Believers are only required to obey the “law of Christ,” which is taught in the commands of the New Testament alone. That’s a simple hermeneutic that draws a sharp line between the testaments and tells believers they don’t have to obey any Old Testament law. One of the major problems with this perspective is that New Testament authors seem to assume the authority of the Old Testament in matters of certain kinds of law. Another problem is that in spite of objections to the contrary, the Old Testament doesn’t treat all of its laws the same way either. We often hear that “the Law” is a unit, that all of it is moral, and that if any of it is abrogated, then all of it must be. While the issues involved in this dispute among sincere brothers in Christ certainly require more than a simple blog post, I offer the following short critique of those views which teach that Old Testament law is monolithic and without any divisions.

Read more: http://founders.org/2016/04/23/the-division-of-old-testament-law/

Either Gross Ignorance or Malignant Opposition

John Murray, “Law and Grace:”

It is symptomatic of a pattern of thought current in many evangelical circles that the idea of keeping the commandments of God is not consonant with the liberty and spontaneity of the Christian man, that keeping the law has its affinities with legalism and with the principle of works rather than with the principle of grace. It is strange indeed that this kind of antipathy to the notion of keeping commandments should be entertained by any believer who is a serious student of the New Testament. Did not our Lord say, ‘If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)? And did he not say, ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love’ (John 15:10)? It was John who recorded these sayings of our Lord and it was he, of all the disciples, who was mindful of the Lord’s teaching and example regarding iove, and reproduces that teaching so conspicuously in his first Epistle. We catch something of the tenderness of his entreaty when he writes, ‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth’ (I John 3:18), ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God” (I John 4:7). But the message oi John has escaped us if we have failed to note John’s emphasis upon the keeping of the commandments of God. ‘And by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps his word, in him verily the iove of God is made perfect’ (I John 2:3-5). ‘Beloved, if our heart does not condemn, we have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are well-pleasing in his sight . . . And he who keeps his commandments abides in him and he in him’ (I John 3:21, 22, 24). ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments’ (I John 5:3). If we are surprised to find this virtual identification of love to God and the keeping of his commandments, it is because we have overlooked the words of our Lord himself which John had remembered and learned well: ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love’ (John 15:10) and ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me’ (John 14:21). To say the very least, the witness of our Lord and the testimony of John are to the effect that there is indispensable complementation; love will be operative in the keeping of God’s commandments. It is only myopia that prevents us from seeing this, and when there is a persistent animosity to the notion of keeping commandments the only conclusion is that there is either gross ignorance or malignant opposition to the testimony of Jesus.

~originally a part of  the Payton Lectures delivered by Professor Murray in March of 1955 at Fuller Theological Seminary. The entire lecture series was expanded and reprinted by Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1957 in book form with the title, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics by John Murray.

Read more of what John Murray has to say on how the law and the gospel interrelate here: http://www.the-highway.com/lawgrace.html

The Final Reference-Point Required

Cornelius Van Til:

Fingerprint-magnabrushThe issue between believers and non-believers in Christian theism cannot be settled by a direct appeal to “facts” or “laws” whose nature and significance is already agreed upon by both parties to the debate. The question is rather as to what is the final reference-point required to make the “facts” and “laws” intelligible. The question is as to what the “facts” and “laws” really are. Are they what the non-Christian methodology assumes that they are? Are they what the Christian theistic methodology presupposes they are?” (Source)

Source: https://www.monergism.com/blog/doing-math-dice-and-atheism%E2%80%99s-destruction-knowledge

The Threefold Use of the Law

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THE THREEFOLD USE OF THE LAW
by R.C. Sproul

Every Christian wrestles with the question, how does the Old Testament law relate to my life? Is the Old Testament law irrelevant to Christians or is there some sense in which we are still bound by portions of it? As the heresy of antinomianism becomes ever more pervasive in our culture, the need to answer these questions grows increasingly urgent.

The Reformation was founded on grace and not upon law. Yet the law of God was not repudiated by the Reformers. John Calvin, for example, wrote what has become known as the “Threefold Use of the Law” in order to show the importance of the law for the Christian life.1

The first purpose of the law is to be a mirror. On the one hand, the law of God reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. The law tells us much about who God is. Perhaps more important, the law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, “The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace.”2 The law highlights our weakness so that we might seek the strength found in Christ. Here the law acts as a severe schoolmaster who drives us to Christ.

A second purpose for the law is the restraint of evil. The law, in and of itself, cannot change human hearts. It can, however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust. Calvin says this purpose is “by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.”3 The law allows for a limited measure of justice on this earth, until the last judgment is realized.

The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.

By studying or meditating on the law of God, we attend the school of righteousness. We learn what pleases God and what offends Him. The moral law that God reveals in Scripture is always binding upon us. Our redemption is from the curse of God’s law, not from our duty to obey it. We are justified, not because of our obedience to the law, but in order that we may become obedient to God’s law. To love Christ is to keep His commandments. To love God is to obey His law.

Summary

1. The church today has been invaded by antinomianism, which weakens, rejects, or distorts the law of God.
2. The law of God is a mirror of God’s holiness and our unrighteousness. It serves to reveal to us our need of a savior.
3. The law of God is a restraint against sin.
4. The law of God reveals what is pleasing and what is offensive to God.
5. The Christian is to love the law of God and to obey the moral law of God.

Biblical passages for reflection:
Psalm 19:7-11
Psalm 119:9-16
Romans 7:7-25
Romans 8:3-4
1 Corinthians 7:19
Galatians 3:24

1. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:304-310.
2. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:306.
3. Calvin, Institutes, bk. II, 1:307.

Excerpt from Essential Truths Of The Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul © (Tyndale 1992)

Law And Grace Are Mutual Handmaids

J.C. Ryle on the relationship of law and grace:

Peter Paul Rubens 105 1“God’s method of salvation by grace has ‘established the law’ in a threefold way. First, by Christ, the Surety of God’s elect, being ‘made under the law’ (Gal. 4:4), fulfilling its precepts (Matt. 5:17), suffering its penalty in the stead of His people, and thereby He has ‘brought in everlasting righteousness’ (Daniel 9:24). Second, by the Holy Spirit, for at regeneration He writes the Law on their hearts (Heb. 8:10), drawing out their affections unto it, so that they ‘delight in the law of God after the inward man’ (Romans 7:22). Third, as the fruit of his new nature, the Christian voluntarily and gladly takes the Law for his rule of life, so that he declares, ‘with the mind I myself serve the law’ (Romans 7:25). Thus is the Law ‘established’ not only in the high court of heaven, but in the souls of the redeemed. So far from law and grace being enemies, they are mutual handmaids: the former reveals the sinner’s need, the latter supplies it; the one makes known God’s requirements, the other enables us to meet them. Faith is not opposed to good works, but performs them in obedience to God out of love and gratitude.”

Source: “A Biblical Refutation of Dispensationalism (The Application of the Scriptures),” pdf file linked to the accompanying sermon.