Can We “Make Jesus Lord”?

Can Christians “make Jesus Lord”?  In The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort (with Foreward and Commentary by Kirk Cameron), they make the claim that to move from being a ‘lukewarm’ ‘false convert’, you must “make Jesus Lord” (see below).  Further, it seems they believe the high mark of “making Jesus Lord” is to proclaim Jesus to every living creature.  So much for the sweet elderly saints that help to serve in other ways in the Body of Christ, they must just be lukewarm.  And forget about Christ giving gifts to His Church according to his good pleasure (see Ephesians 4, I Corinthians 12).  Note that Ephesians 4 speaks of our Lord giving His gifts to His church while calling for unity in the Body of Christ and a diligence in fighting our sin.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+4&version=ESV

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+12&version=ESV

Certainly, in the body of Christ, there are false converts that place their hope in another object besides the person and work of Christ on their behalf.  This can exhibit itself in various ways including unrepentant moral impurity or self-righteousness that does not readily confess hope in Christ alone.  As Christians, we always stand in need of God’s grace in Christ both for our original sin and our continuing struggle with indwelling sin during our Christian life.

Reformed Christians freely confess that we sin daily in word, thought and deed.  Why?  Because we take the nature of original sin and the ongoing struggle with indwelling sin in the Christian life seriously.  We know enough theologically of its effects and ongoing remains.  It is not pretty.  And yet, exactly due to the awfulness of our sin, we do not find the answer of our hope in being more diligent in what we do let alone our “evangelistic zeal”, but rather in Christ.  Certainly, we are to fight and hate our own personal sin, yet the foundation of our hope is not in how much we fight our sin nor our zeal for evangelism.  We do not place our hope in moving beyond being ‘lukewarm’ to now having a ‘zeal’ for sharing Jesus.

Before moving forward in this discussion, it is important to understand the doctrine of justification and set forth the ground of our comfort and hope.  In the Westminster Standards, the Larger Catechism states the following:

Q. 70. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?

A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepts the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.

Q. 72. What is justifying faith?

A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

The Heidelberg asks –

91. What are good works?

Those only which proceed from true faith, and are done according to the Law of God, unto His glory, and not such as rest on our own opinion or the commandments of men.

The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort (Foreward and Commentary by Kirk Cameron is available online here: http://assets.livingwaters.com/pdf/way_of_the_master.pdf  To provide the fullest context of ‘making Jesus Lord’, I quote at length the section titled ‘Sinning Converts’ from pp. 271-272.

Sinning Converts

The direct result of the Church being confronted with biblical teaching on God’s immutable Law would be that “sinning converts” would no longer be consoled in their sins. Instead of dealing with the symptoms of sinners’ non-accountability lifestyles—their fornication, pornography, lack of discipline, lack of holiness, theft, wife beating, adultery, drunkenness, lying, hatred, rebellion, greed, etc.—pastors would deal with the cause. They would say, as Scripture does, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit” (Matthew 7:18, emphasis added), and “No spring yields both salt water and fresh” (James 3:12). They would gently inform their hearers, “It sounds as if you have had a false conversion and you need to repent of your lawless deeds and make Jesus Christ your Lord.” Then, using the Law of God, pastors should show the “exceeding sinfulness” of sin and the unspeakable gift of the Cross. This should awaken the false converts, put most Christian psychologists out of business, and cut counseling to a minimum.

A clear understanding of the reality of true and false conversion would give light to church leaders who are horrified at the state of what they see as “the Church.” One respected leader said: In survey after survey, researchers find that the lifestyles of born-again Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of nonbelievers. The divorce rate among Christians is identical to that of nonbelievers. Christian teens are almost as sexually active as non-Christian teens. Pornography, materialism, gluttony, lust, covetousness, and even disbelief are commonplace in many of our churches.

Such teaching would also stop the insanity of modern evangelism’s zeal without knowledge by showing that the category of lukewarm “converts” doesn’t exist. There is no division in the kingdom of God for those who are tepid. We should be either hot and stimulating or cold and refreshing.1   Lukewarm “converts” are not part of the body of Christ—they merely weigh heavy within the stomach of His body until He vomits them out of His mouth on the Day of Judgment (see Revelation 3:16). Because they didn’t pass through the jagged-edged teeth of the Law of God, they remain hard and impenitent. They were never broken by the Law that they might be absorbed into the bloodstream of the Body of Christ, to become His hands, His feet, and His mouth. They never felt the heartbeat of God, so their hands didn’t reach out in compassion to the lost, their feet were not shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and their mouths didn’t preach the gospel to every creature. This mass of converts is like the “backslider in heart” who is “filled with his own ways” rather than the ways of God (Proverbs 14:14). Their “Here I am Lord, send him,” doesn’t come from a fear of man but from rebellion to the revealed will of the God they call Lord and Master.

Kirk’s Commentary

I was guilty of being lukewarm. My desire for the lost was sincere, but I resigned myself to tasks other than evangelism because I didn’t feel comfortable or effective in sharing my faith. God has since turned up the heat, bringing me to an understanding of the Law, and now I’m on fire. —KC [end Comfort and Cameron quote]

In The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World by Michael Horton, pp. 93-94

Commenting on “Making Jesus your personal Lord and Savior”, Michael Horton writes “This is another expression that is not found in Scripture.  In fact, the Good News is so good precisely because it is simply an announcement ofwhat is already in fact the case: “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he poured out that which you now see and hear…. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32–33, 36, emphasis added).

We all want to be and to do something rather than to be made and to receive our identity from above.  It is a blow to our spiritual ego to be told that everything has already been done.  Yet that is the glory of the gospel!  That is why it is Good News.  Imagine what would have happened if God had waited until Israel made God Lord and Savior before he liberated them from Egypt!  It was because he had elected Israel, set his love on her, and had mercy on her as he heard her cries under severe oppression — in other words, because he was already Lord and Savior—that he fulfilled his promise.  “Lord and Savior” is simply who God is, not something that we make him to be for us.  In fact, he was reigning and saving us while we were “ungodly,” “while we were still sinners,” even “while we were enemies” (Rom. 5:6-10).

Faith receives; it does not make.  Only God’s declarative word creates.  When God created the world, he did not say, “Let it be possible!”  He said, “Let there be light! And it was so.”  It is certainly true that we must receive Christ.  Yet it is because he has first received us.  “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

To be sure, there is more to the Gospel than salvation from hell.  The cross is not simply God’s way of forgiving sinners, but of conquering the demonic forces and structures that yield oppression and violence.  And it’s certainly true that the gospel has often been reduced to a simplistic and individualistic message that misses the sweeping grandeur of Christ’s redemptive historical achievement.  It is not just “fire insurance,” but the way in which the Triune God fulfills his promise of a new creation in spite of human rebellion.  However, this broadening of the Gospel extends today, to include not only the fuller aspects of Christ’s work, but the work of believers as somehow redemptive.  We hear a lot these days about our being “coredeemers,” completing Christ’s work of redeeming love in the world.  As the meaning of “gospel” expands to anything and everything that flows from the gospel (and perhaps many things that do not), the meaning of “the ministry” expands to include virtually any activity of Christians conducted under the auspices of the church or in the name of Christ.

In this case, Christ becomes primarily a moral example rather than a Savior.  Whereas the gospel makes us receivers who then become actors, this emphasis on making Christ master and extending his redeeming work in the world renders us agents of rather than witnesses to God’s reconciling act in Jesus Christ. [end Horton quote]

So the question remains for Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron and those they have influenced.  What righteousness is good enough before God?  God commands a perfect righteousness and what he commands, he freely gives in His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and if we accept such benefit with a believing heart, all His righteousness is ours, through the instrument of faith.

Several questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism are helpful again here to remind us of Christ in the Gospel for us.

21. What is true faith?

True faith is not only a sure knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

60. How are you righteous before God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ: that is, although my conscience accuses me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God, without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sins, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.

61. Why do you say that you are righteous by faith only?

Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God; and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.

62. But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?

Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment seat of God, must be perfect throughout and entirely conformable to the divine law, but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.

63. Do our good works merit nothing, even though it is God’s will to reward them in this life and in that which is to come?

The reward comes not of merit, but of grace.

If the expectations of others are burning you out, remember Christ in the Gospel for you and for me.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV), “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Christ Our Only Hope – Horton

GospelDriven_HortonArrested, arraigned, and indicted, in repentance we turn away from ourselves – our untruths, our sins, and our fraudulent claim to righteousness – and in faith we look  Christ for salvation and every spiritual gift. To put it differently, in repentance we confess (with David) that God is justified in his verdict against us and in faith we receive God’s justification. The righteousness of God brings us to our knees and guilt, while the gift of righteousness from God raises our eyes to Christ as our only hope. Dead to sin and alive to Christ once and for all in regeneration (Rom. 6:1-11), we are called to die daily to our old self and live daily by “the free gift of God,” which “is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 12 – 23). Michael Horton, The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World p. 121

The Canons of the Council of Orange 529 AD

The Canons of the Council of Orange 529 AD


CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was “changed for the worse” through the offense of Adam’s sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20); and, “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?” (Rom. 6:16); and, “For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me” (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).

CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, “The will is prepared by the Lord” (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism — if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, “And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, “Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

CANON 9. Concerning the succor of God. It is a mark of divine favor when we are of a right purpose and keep our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness; for as often as we do good, God is at work in us and with us, in order that we may do so.

CANON 10. Concerning the succor of God. The succor of God is to be ever sought by the regenerate and converted also, so that they may be able to come to a successful end or persevere in good works.

CANON 11. Concerning the duty to pray. None would make any true prayer to the Lord had he not received from him the object of his prayer, as it is written, “Of thy own have we given thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).

CANON 12. Of what sort we are whom God loves. God loves us for what we shall be by his gift, and not by our own deserving.

CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

CANON 14. No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God, as the Psalmist says, “Let thy compassion come speedily to meet us” (Ps. 79:8), and again, “My God in his steadfast love will meet me” (Ps. 59:10).

CANON 15. Adam was changed, but for the worse, through his own iniquity from what God made him. Through the grace of God the believer is changed, but for the better, from what his iniquity has done for him. The one, therefore, was the change brought about by the first sinner; the other, according to the Psalmist, is the change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 77:10).

CANON 16. No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment, as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in speech. For the Apostle speaks thus, “For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal. 2:21); and “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps. 68:18). It is from this source that any man has what he does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source either does not truly have it, or else “even what he has will be taken away” (Matt. 25:29).

CANON 17. Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which “has been poured into our hearts” not by freedom of will from our own side but “through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.

CANON 19. That a man can be saved only when God shows mercy. Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in which it was created, could be no means save itself, without the assistance of the Creator; hence since man cannot safe- guard his salvation without the grace of God, which is a gift, how will he be able to restore what he has lost without the grace of God?

CANON 20. That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.

CANON 21. Concerning nature and grace. As the Apostle most truly says to those who would be justified by the law and have fallen from grace, “If justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose” (Gal. 2:21), so it is most truly declared to those who imagine that grace, which faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of, is nature: “If justification were through nature, then Christ died to no purpose.” Now there was indeed the law, but it did not justify, and there was indeed nature, but it did not justify. Not in vain did Christ therefore die, so that the law might be fulfilled by him who said, “I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfil them” (Matt. 5:17), and that the nature which had been destroyed by Adam might be restored by him who said that he had come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

CANON 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.

CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.

CANON 24. Concerning the branches of the vine. The branches on the vine do not give life to the vine, but receive life from it; thus the vine is related to its branches in such a way that it supplies them with what they need to live, and does not take this from them. Thus it is to the advantage of the disciples, not Christ, both to have Christ abiding in them and to abide in Christ. For if the vine is cut down another can shoot up from the live root; but one who is cut off from the vine cannot live without the root (John 15:5ff).

CANON 25. Concerning the love with which we love God. It is wholly a gift of God to love God. He who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him. For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son (Rom. 5:5).

CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God’s sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). And again, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). And again, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, “I have obtained mercy to be faithful” (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, “because I was faithful,” but “to be faithful.” And again, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17). And again, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.

According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him. We must therefore most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God’s kindness.

Distinguishing Law and Gospel Always Under Attack

The paradigm of distinguishing Law and Gospel is under attack.  The overarching fear seems to be that antinomianism will prevail in the church and practical holiness will not be pursued.  In this brief 3 minute video, Michael Horton, author and professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in California, defines the Gospel in a narrow sense.  Some accuse this definition of the ‘Gospel’ of being out of accord with the Reformation understanding of the gospel.  It’s claimed he presents a ‘truncated gospel’ and some have called this some form of ‘Modern Day Reformed Thought’.

Here are some quotes from The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, (Escondido, California: den Dulk Foundation, 1990) Vol. 1 on the Gospel in the Narrow Sense https://covenantnurture.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/the-gospel-in-the-narrow-sense-herman-witsius/ These quotes provide evidence that Dr. Horton is completely in accord with the Reformation in his definition of the gospel.  Witsius elsewhere speaks of the 3rd use of the law throughout the Economy of the Covenants.  Michael Horton does the same in his writings and on his program the White Horse Inn.  The difference is Horton is attacked today by those that profess faith in Christ, even from within the Reformed churches.

What do God’s two words of Law and Gospel actually accomplish?  Michael Horton has some very helpful thoughts from his systematic theology, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way, p. 755-56.

It is important to recognize while God’s Word is living and active, its  “two words” of law and gospel do different things.  The law kills by revealing our guilt, while the Spirit makes alive by the gospel (2 Co 3:6-18).  By speaking law, God silences and convicts us; by speaking the gospel, God justifies and renews us.  God’s energies, mediated by human language, not only inform us of judgment and grace but judge and save.
                Specifically, the gospel is that part of God’s word that gives life.  While everything that God says is true, useful, and full of impact, not everything that God says is saving.  First Peter 1:23-24 adds, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”  Furthermore, it is not the word in general but the gospel in particular that is credited with this vivifying effect: “This word is the good news that was preached to you” (v. 25).  Similarly, Paul says that “faith comes from hearing… the word of Christ,” and more specifically, “the gospel of peace,” (Ro 10:15, 17).  Salvation is not something that one has to actively pursue, attain, and ascend to grasp, as if it were far away, but is as near as  “the word of faith that we proclaim” (v. 8).  We do not have to bring Christ up from the dead or ascend into heaven to bring him down, since he addresses us directly in his word (vv. 6-9).  The gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Ro 1:16).
                Calvin observes that some parts of God’s Word engender fear and judgment.11 “For although faith believes every word of God, it rests solely on the word of grace or mercy, the promise of God’s fatherly goodwill,” which is realized only in and through Christ.12 “For in God faith seeks life,” says Calvin, “a life that is not found in commandments or declarations of penalties, but in the promise of mercy, and only in a freely given promise.”13 The only safe route, therefore, is to receive the Father through the incarnate Son.  Christ is the saving content of Scripture, the substance of its canonical unity.14 “This, then, is the true knowledge of Christ, if we receive him as he is offered by the Father: namely, clothed with his gospel.  For just as he has been appointed as the goal of our faith, so we cannot take the right road unless the gospel goes before us.”15

11. Calvin, Institutes 3.2.7; 3.2.29.
12. Ibid., 3.2.28-30.
13. Ibid., 3.2.29.
14. Ibid., 1.13.7.
15. Ibid., 3.2.6.

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way, p. 755-56 by Michael Horton

Heidelberg is helpful here too.  We get faith from hearing the Gospel preached.

21. What is true faith?

True faith is not only a sure knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

65. Since, then, we are made partakers of Christ and all His benefits by faith only, where does this faith come from?

The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.

More resources for learning how to distinguish Law and Gospel are available here: