Penalty of Sin Paid and Life Merited – Machen


‘Well, then, sinner,’ says the law of God, ‘have you paid the penalty which I pronounced upon disobedience?’

‘No,’ says the sinner, ‘I have not paid the penalty myself; but Christ has paid it for me. He was my representative when He died there on the cross. Hence, so far as the penalty is concerned, I am clear.’

‘Well, then, sinner,’ says the law of God, ‘how about the conditions which God has pronounced for the attainment of assured blessedness? Have you stood the test? Have you merited eternal life by perfect obedience during the period of probation?’

‘No,’ says the sinner, ‘I have not merited eternal life by my own perfect obedience. God knows and my own conscience knows that even after I became a Christian I have sinned in thought, word and deed. But although I have not merited eternal life by any obedience of my own, Christ has merited it for me by His perfect obedience. He was not for Himself subject to the law. No obedience was required of Him for Himself, since He was Lord of all. That obedience, then, which He rendered to the law when He was on earth was rendered by Him as my representative. I have no righteousness of my own, but clad in Christ’s perfect righteousness, imputed to me and received by faith alone, I can glory in the fact that so far as I am concerned the probation has been kept and as God is true there awaits me the glorious reward which Christ thus earned for me.’

Such, put in bald, simple form, is the dialogue between every Christian and the law of God. How gloriously complete is the salvation wrought for us by Christ! Christ paid the penalty, and He merited the reward. Those are the two great things that He has done for us.

The Doctrine of the Atonement, J. Gresham Machen

The Law and The Gospel in The Word of God – Louis Berkhof


1. THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL IN THE WORD OF GOD. The Churches of the Reformation from the very beginning distinguished between the law and the gospel as the two parts of the Word of God as a means of grace. This distinction was not understood to be identical with that between the Old and the New Testament, but was regarded as a distinction that applies to both Testaments. There is law and gospel in the Old Testament, and there is law and gospel in the New. The law comprises everything in Scripture which is a revelation of God’s will in the form of command or prohibition, while the gospel embraces everything, whether it be in the Old Testament or in the New, that pertains to the work of reconciliation and that proclaims the seeking and redeeming love of God in Christ Jesus. And each one of these two parts has its own proper function in the economy of grace. The law seeks to awaken in the heart of man contrition on account of sin, while the gospel aims at the awakening of saving faith in Jesus Christ. The work of the law is in a sense preparatory to that of the gospel. It deepens the consciousness of sin and thus makes the sinner aware of the need of redemption. Both are subservient to the same end, and both are indispensable parts of the means of grace. This truth has not always been sufficiently recognized. The condemning aspect of the law has sometimes been stressed at the expense of its character as a part of the means of grace. Ever since the days of Marcion there have always been some who saw only contrast between the law and the gospel and proceeded on the assumption that the one excluded the other. They based their opinion in part on the rebuke which Paul administered to Peter (Gal. 2:11-14), and partly on the fact that Paul occasionally draws a sharp distinction between the law and the gospel and evidently regards them as contrasts, II Cor. 3:6-11; Gal. 3:2,3,10-14; cf. also John 1:17.  They lost sight of the fact that Paul also says that the law served as a tutor to lead men to Christ, Gal. 3:24, and that the Epistle to the Hebrews represents the law, not as standing in antithetical relation to the gospel, but rather as the gospel in its preliminary and imperfect state.

Some of the older Reformed theologians represented the law and the gospel as absolute opposites. They thought of the law as embodying all the demands and commandments of Scripture, and of the gospel, as containing no demands whatsoever, but only unconditional promises; and thus excluded from it all requirements. This was partly due to the way in which the two are sometimes contrasted in Scripture, but was also partly the result of a controversy in which they were engaged with the Arminians.  The Arminian view, making salvation dependent on faith and evangelical obedience as works of man, caused them to go to the extreme of saying that the covenant of grace does not require anything on the part of man, does not prescribe any duties, does not demand or command anything, not even faith, trust, and hope in the Lord, and so on,  but merely conveys to man the promises of what God will do for him. Others, however, correctly maintained that even the law of Moses is not devoid of promises, and that the gospel also contains certain demands. They clearly saw that man is not merely passive, when he is introduced into the covenant of grace, but is called upon to accept the covenant actively with all its privileges, though it is God who works in him the ability to meet the requirements. The promises which man appropriates certainly impose upon him certain duties, and among them the duty to obey the law of God as a rule of life, but also carry with them the assurance that God will work in him “both to will and to do.” The consistent Dispensationalists of our day again represent the law and the gospel as absolute opposites. Israel was under the law in the previous dispensation, but the Church of the present dispensation is under the gospel, and as such is free from the law.  This means that the gospel is now the only means of salvation, and that the law does not now serve as such. Members of the Church need not concern themselves about its demands, since Christ has met all its requirements. They seem to forget that, while Christ bore the curse of the law, and met its demands as a condition of the covenant of works, He did not fulfil the law for them as a rule of life, to which man is subject in virtue of his creation, apart from any covenant arrangement.

a. As was already said in the preceding, the distinction between the law and the gospel is not the same as that between the Old and the New Testament. Neither is it the same as that which present day Dispensationalists make between the dispensation of the law and the dispensation of the gospel. It is contrary to the plain facts of Scripture to say that there is no gospel in the Old Testament, or at least not in that part of the Old Testament that covers the dispensation of the law. There is gospel in the maternal promise, gospel in the ceremonial law, and gospel in many of the Prophets, as Isa. 53 and 54; 55:1-3,6.7; Jer. 31:33,34; Ezek. 36:25-28. In fact, there is a gospel current running through the whole of the Old Testament, which reaches its highest point in the Messianic prophecies. And it is equally contrary to Scripture to say that there is no law in the New Testament, or that the law does not apply in the New Testament dispensation. Jesus taught the permanent validity of the law, Matt. 5:17-19. Paul says that God provided for it that the requirements of the law should be fulfilled in our lives, Rom. 8:4, and holds his readers responsible for keeping the law, Rom. 13:9. James assures his readers that he who transgresses a single commandment of the law (and he mentions some of these), is a transgressor of the law, Jas. 2:8-11. And John defines sin as “lawlessness,” and says that this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, I John 3:4; 5:3.

b. It is possible to say that in some respects the Christian is free from the law of God.  The Bible does not always speak of the law in the same sense. Sometimes it contemplates this as the immutable expression of the nature and will of God, which applies at all times and under all conditions. But it also refers to it as it functions in the covenant of works, in which the gift of eternal life was conditioned on its fulfilment.  Man failed to meet the condition, thereby also losing the ability to meet it, and is now by nature under a sentence of condemnation. When Paul draws a contrast between the law and the gospel, he is thinking of this aspect of the law, the broken law of the covenant of works, which can no more justify, but can only condemn the sinner. From the law in this particular sense, both as a means for obtaining eternal life and as a condemning power, believers are set free in Christ, since He became a curse for them and also met the demands of the covenant of works in their behalf. The law in that particular sense and the gospel of free grace are mutually exclusive.

c. There is another sense, however, in which the Christian is not free from the law.
The situation is quite different when we think of the law as the expression of man’s natural obligations to his God, the law as it is applied to man even apart from the covenant of works. It is impossible to imagine any condition in which man might be able to claim freedom from the law in that sense. It is pure Antinomianism to maintain that Christ kept the law as a rule of life for His people, so that they need not worry about this any more. The law lays claim, and justly so, on the entire life of man in all its aspects, including his relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When God offers man the gospel, the law demands that the latter shall accept this. Some would speak of this as the law in the gospel, but this is hardly correct. The gospel itself consists of promises and is no law; yet there is a demand of the law in connection with the gospel. The law not only demands that we accept the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ, but also that we lead a life of gratitude in harmony with its requirements.

Source: Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

Calvin on Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love Towards God and Neighbor

John_Calvin_by_HolbeinIn Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume 3, Harmony of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, he harmonizes his exegetical thoughts on Deuteronomy 10:12-13, Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 6:5.  Often times in preaching where law and gospel are not rightly distinguished, passages such as Deuteronomy 6:5 or Matthew 22:37-40 will be referenced in passing and leave the listener with the impression they can actually do this law in the manner required by God in this life.  God actually requires that his law be obeyed perfectly in word, thought, and deed.  When a sermon uses a passage such as Deuteronomy 6:5 without suggesting that we fail to obey God’s law perfectly as required yet Christ fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law in our place, it can leave one more than a bit hopeless.  God’s Word is to be preached carefully to the people of God so that we are neither left to exalt nor despair in ourselves.  As the people of God gather to hear His Word preached, the Gospel should be proclaimed in such a way that genuine believers are comforted in Christ, built up in the faith, and propelled to live in loving obedience to our covenant Lord and loving our neighbor more and more as the day of Christ approaches.   Below I have included the entire section from Calvin’s Commentary on these three passages.  However, it is of particular interest to gain an understanding of Calvin’s view regarding how we fail to love God and neighbor as we should, as perfection requires:

Deuteronomy 10:12.And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require? After having expounded each Commandment in its order, it now remains for us to see what is the sum of the contents of the Law, and what the aim and object of its instructions. For Paul elicits its true use, when he declares that its end is “charity, out of a pure heart and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,” (1 Timothy 1:5,) since even then it had its false interpreters, who, he says, had “turned aside unto vain jangling,” when they swerved from that object. Now, as it is contained in two Tables, so also Moses reduces it to two heads, that we should love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves; for, although he does not unite the two in one passage, yet Christ, by whose Spirit he spoke, ought to suffice to explain to us his intention, (Matthew 22:37 for, when He was asked what was the great Commandment of the Law, He replied that the first indeed was, that God should be loved, and the second like unto it, regarding the love of our neighbor; as if He had said, that the whole perfection of righteousness, which is set before us in the Law, consists of two parts, that we should serve God with true piety, and conduct ourselves innocently towards men according to the rule of charity. The same is the sense of Paul’s words, for the faith, which is there called the source and origin of charity, comprehends in it the love of God. At any rate, the declaration of Christ stands sure, that nothing is required of us by the Law, but that we should love God, together with our neighbors. From hence a short and clear definition may be laid down, that nothing is required unto a good life except piety and justice. 174

Paul, indeed, seems to add a third clause, when he says, that “the grace of God hath appeared, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” (Titus 2:11, 12) but this σωφροσύνη, (soberness,) is there added as the seasoning, so to speak, of a just and pious life; and assuredly no one will prove that he aims at holiness and integrity, unless by living chastely, honestly, and temperately. Thus, where the service of God is omitted,175 and the doctrine of the Law confined to the love of our neighbor alone, it is not so much that religion is put out of sight 176 it is not so much to bury religion, and what concerns the first table, as to give testimony of it by its fruits. — Fr. (sepelitur,) as that the proof of it is made to rest on serious self-examination; for since it is the way with hypocrites to cover themselves with ceremonies as with a mask of sanctity, whilst they are puffed up with pride, burn with avarice and rapacity, are full of envy and malice, breathe out threatenings and cruelty, and are abandoned to filthy lusts, Christ, in order to disperse these clouds of pretense, declares that the three chief points in the Law are “judgment, mercy,” and fidelity,177 is nothing else than strict integrity; not to attempt anything by cunning, or malice, or deceit, but to cultivate towards all that mutual sincerity which every man wishes to be pursued towards himself.” See also Inst., book 2. ch. 8. sect. 52.  (Matthew 23:23) and elsewhere, discoursing of the righteousness of the Law, He makes no mention of the First Table. (Matthew 19:18.)

For the same reason, Paul calls charity the fulfillment of the Law, (Romans 13:8,) and elsewhere, “the bond of perfectness.” (Colossians 3:14.) Still, nothing was further from their intention than to draw us away from the fear of God, that we might devote ourselves to our duties towards men, as I have already shown from another passage, where Christ, in summing up the Law, begins with the love of God. And Paul, where he teaches that we should be altogether perfect, if faith works in us by love, (Galatians 5:6,) does not omit the cause and principle of a good life. And thus are reconciled the passages which else might appear contradictory, via, that holiness is perfected in the fear of the Lord, when “we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” (2 Corinthians 7:1) and “all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (Galatians 5:14) that is to say, because our piety cannot otherwise make itself clear by certain proof, unless we behave justly and harmlessly towards men. 178 Again, since “our goodness extendeth not to” God, so it is perceived what our mind is by our performance of the duties of the Second Table, as it is said in the Psalm, “my goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth, in whom is all my delight,”  179 (Psalm 16:2, 3) for how will any one boast, (as John says,) that he loves God, whom he does not see, if he loveth not his brother with whom he is familiarly united? (1 John 4:20.) Since, therefore, falsehood is thus detected, God exercises us in piety by mutual charity; and hence John concludes, that “this Commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:21.)

Before, however, I say any more of these two precepts, we must observe the end of the Law as it is described by Moses; “Now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul?” For, although he further eulogizes the Law, because it prescribes nothing which nature does not itself dictate to be most certain and most just, and which experience itself does not shew us to be more profitable, or more desirable than anything else, still, at the same time, he reminds us what is the means by which it is to be kept. 180 Therefore he sets before us at the same time the fear and the love of God; for, inasmuch as God is the Lord, He justly desires to be feared in right of His dominion; and, inasmuch as He is our Father, He requires to be loved, as it is said in Malachi 1:6. Let us learn, therefore, if we would set ourselves about keeping the Law, that we must begin with the fear of God, which is hence called the “beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10.) But, since God has no pleasure in extorted and forced obedience, love is immediately added. And this deserves to be well weighed, that whereas there is nothing pleasanter than to love God, still it always occupies the first place in all His service. Surely he must be more than iron-hearted who is not attracted by such kindness; since, for no other cause, does He invite and exhort us to love Him, than because He loveth us; nay, He has already prevented us with His love, as is said in 1 John 4:10. Meanwhile, we may at the same time gather, that nothing is pleasing to God which is offered “grudgingly or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7.) It is true that Paul is there speaking of alms-giving; but this voluntary and hearty inclination to obey, such as we see in good and ingenuous children, who take delight in subjection to their parents, ought to be extended to all the actions of our lives. And assuredly the reverence which is paid to God flows from no other source than the tasting of His paternal love towards us, whereby we are drawn to love Him in return; as it is said in Psalm 130:4, “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” Whenever, then, we hear what Scripture constantly inculcates; “O love ye Jehovah, 181 all ye his meek ones!” (Psalm 31:23.) let us remember that God shews Himself loving towards us, in order that we may willingly and with becoming cheerfulness acquiesce in what He commands.

The perfection which is here required shews with sufficient clearness how far we are from a thorough obedience to the Law. We are commanded to love God with all our heart, and soul, and strength. However much we strive, our efforts are weak and imperfect, unless the love of God has possession of all our senses, and all our desires and thoughts are altogether devoted to Him, whilst all our endeavors are also directed to Him alone. But every one is abundantly convinced by his own experience, in how many ways our minds are carried away to vanity; how many corrupt affections creep over us; how difficult it is for us to restrain and overcome the evil motions of our flesh. Surely the very best wrestler, with all his strivings, is hardly able to make advances in this spiritual warfare; and if it be a great attainment not to faint altogether, certainly none will dare to boast that he comes near the mark which is set before us in the Law. In short, whenever worldly snares and foolish appetites insinuate themselves upon us, we must so often feel that some part of our soul is empty of the love of God, since otherwise nothing repugnant to it would penetrate there. The word heart here,182 as elsewhere, is not used for the seat of the affections, but for the intellect; and, therefore, it would have been superfluous to add διάνοιας, as the Evangelists have done, unless for the purpose of removing all ambiguity; but because this signification was not commonly in use among the Greeks, they have not hesitated to add a word of their own in explanation. Those, however, who are well acquainted with the teaching of Moses, are not ignorant that the word heart is equivalent to mind; for he elsewhere says, “The Lord hath not given you an heart to understand,183 and eyes to see, unto this day,” (Deuteronomy 29:4) but the expression would have been obscure to the Greeks, as being unusual in their language.184

Leviticus 19

Leviticus 19:18

18. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

18. Diliges proximum tuum sicut to ipsum.


18. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. What every man’s mind ought to be towards his neighbor, could not be better expressed in many pages that in this one sentence. We are all of us not only inclined to love ourselves more than we should, but all our powers hurry us away in this direction; nay, φιλαυτία (self-love) blinds us so much as to be the parent of all iniquities. Since, therefore, whilst we are too much given to love ourselves, we forget and neglect our brethren, God could only bring us back to charity by plucking from our hearts that vicious passion which is born with us and dwells deeply in us; nor, again, could this be done except by transferring elsewhere the love which exists within us. On this point no less has the dishonesty betrayed itself than the ignorance and folly of those185  who would have the love of ourselves come first: “The rule (say they) is superior to the thing regulated by it; and according to God’s commandment, the charity which we should exercise towards others is formed upon the love of ourselves as its rule.” As if it were God’s purpose to stir up the fire which already burns too fiercely. Naturally, as I have said, we are blinded by our immoderate self-love; and God, in order to turn us away from this, has substituted our neighbors, whom we are to love no less than ourselves; nor will any one ever perform what Paul teaches us to be a part of charity, viz., that she “seeketh not her own,” (1 Corinthians 13:5,) until he shall have renounced himself.

Not only those with whom we have some connection are called our neighbors, but all without exception; for the whole human race forms one body, of which all are members, and consequently should be bound together by mutual ties; for we must bear in mind that even those who are most alienated from us, should be cherished and aided even as our own flesh; since we have 186 seen elsewhere that sojourners and strangers are placed in the same category (with our relations; 187 and Christ sufficiently confirms this in the case of the Samaritan. (Luke 10:30.)

174    “Que la somme de bien vivre est d’honorer Dieu, et converser justement avec les hommes;” that the sum of a good life is to honor God, and to demean ourselves justly towards men. — Fr.

175    “En d’aucuns passages;” in some passages. — Fr.

176    “Ce n’est pas tant pour ensevelir la religion, et ce qui concerne la premiere table, que pour en rendre tesmoignage par fruits;”

177    Faith. — A.V. “Faith (says C. Harm. of Evang., vol. 3. 90,)

178    “Innoxie” — Lat. “En bonne simplicite” — Fr.

179    “Voluntas mea.” — Lat.

180    “Quel est le moyen de bien garder la Loi, quand on saura ou elle nous mene;” what is the means of properly keeping the Law, when we know whither it leads us. — Fr.

181    “O love the Lord, all ye his saints.” — A.V. See C.’s version, Calvin Society’s edition. “Misericordes ejusi.e., quotquot sensistis bonitatem ejus.” — Vatablus in Poole’s Synopsis.

182   The word לבב, lebab, the heart, is “extensively applied to the mind, and includeth the mind and every faculty, action, passion, disposition, and affection thereof, as thoughts,   understanding, reasoning, memory, will, judgment, wisdom, counsel; desire, love, hatred, courage, fear, joy, sorrow, anger.” — Taylor’s Concordance. See C. on Matthew 22:37Mark 12:33, and Luke 10:27, in Harmony of Evangelists: (Calvin Society’s translation,) vol. 3, p. 58

183    “An heart to perceive.” — A.V.

184    The last sentence omitted in Fr.

185    “Les docteurs Papistes.” — FrSee ante on Leviticus 19:18p. 23.

186    On Leviticus 19:33ante p. 118.

187    Added from Fr.)


Full Obedience, Straight Up

Full_ObedienceI recently visited a mega church for a speech conference and was amazed at some of the mantras on signs. “Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ & Live in Full Obedience to Him.” Yep, that’s right – “Full Obedience.” Just “Do it.” We left a mega church nearly 10 years ago because law and gospel were not clearly distinguished. Messages were simply so ‘law heavy’ and loaded with imperatives that church simply became oppressive. It was essentially ‘try harder’. Sadly, moving into Reformed circles it seems that many are not aware in ‘our’ churches that they also give GoLawspel (a mixing of law and gospel) to their people. The law demands perfect obedience and only Jesus Christ was the One who fully obeyed. Jesus performed obedience in our place and rescues us because of his obedient life, death, and resurrection. Now, because he has gone before us and obeyed on our behalf, we do bear the fruit of a redeemed life, but imperfectly so.

For those of you crushed by the mixing of law and gospel and oppressiveness of sermons loaded with “DO” and rarely “DONE” (what Christ has accomplished for you to rescue and comfort you) the following articles on law and gospel are a good place to begin thinking through these issues.

Then search for a church where the pastor will give you Christ in Word and Sacrament to comfort and nourish you along the way.

Luther on the Law – Commentary on Galatians


23. Paul goes on to explain how the law profits us, and its necessity.  He has already said that it was added because of transgressions-not that it was God’s principle purpose to make a law that would bring death and damnation (see Romans 7:13). The law is a word that shows life and drives people to it. Therefore, it is not only given as a minister of death, but its chief purpose is to reveal death, so that people might see and know how horrible sin is. Still, it is not as though the law served no purpose but to kill and destroy; it reveals death in order that when people are terrified and cast down and humbled, they should fear God (Exodus 20:20). The function of the law is to kill, and yet in such a way that God may revive and bring to life again. Because people are proud and dream they are wise, righteous, and holy, it is necessary for them to be humbled by the law, so that the beast that is their high opinion of their righteousness might be slain; otherwise no one can obtain life.

So although the law kills, God uses this effect of the law, this death, for a good purpose—to bring life. God sees that this universal plague of the whole world—namely, our high opinion of our own righteousness, our hypocrisy, and our confidence in our own holiness—could not be beaten down by any other means.  He wants our self-reliance to be killed by the law—not forever, but so that once it is killed, we might be raised up again, above and beyond the law, and then might hear this voice: “Fear not. I have given the law and killed you by the law not so that you would remain in this death, but so that you would fear me and live.” To rely on good works and righteousness is inconsistent with the fear of God; and where there is no fear of God, there can be no thirsting for grace or life. God must therefore have a strong hammer to break the rocks and a hot burning fire in the midst of heaven to overthrow the mountains-that is, to destroy this furious and obstinate beast, this presumption. When we are brought to nothing by this bruising and breaking, we may despair of our own strength, righteousness, and holiness; then we will thirst after mercy and forgiveness of sins. Galatians, Martin Luther, The Crossway Classic Commentaries Series, Series Editors McGrath, Alister; Packer, J.I., p. 180

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 39 on the Fifth Commandment with ESV

Lord’s Day 39

104. What does God require in the fifth Commandment?

That I show all honor, love, and faithfulness to my father and mother, [1] and to all in authority over me, [2] submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities, since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand. [3]

[1] Gen 9:24-25; Ex 21:17; Prov 1:8-9, 4:1, 15:20, 20:20; Eph 6:1-6, 22; Col 3:18, 20-24; [2] Mt 22:21; Rom 13:1, 2-7; 1 Pt 2:18; [3] Deut 27:16, 32:24; Prov 13:24, 30:17; Eph 6:4, 9; Col 3:19, 21; 1 Tim 2:1-2, 5:17; Heb 13:17-18

Genesis 9:24-25
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

Exodus 21:17
Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Proverbs 1:8-9
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, 9 for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 4:1
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

Proverbs 15:20
A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 20:20
If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Ephesians 6:1-6
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

Ephesians 6:22
I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

Colossians 3:18
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Colossians 3:20-24
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Matthew 22:21
They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:1
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:2-7
2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:18
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

Deuteronomy 27:16
“‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Deuteronomy 32:24
They shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured by plague and poisonous pestilence; I will send the teeth of beasts against them, with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.

Proverbs 13:24
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Proverbs 30:17
The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:9
Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Colossians 3:19
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

1 Timothy 5:17
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

Hebrews 13:17-18
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.

Selections from The Pearl of Christian Comfort by Petrus Dathenus

Pearl of Christian Comfort by Petrus DathenusThe Pearl of Christian Comfort is a dialogue between Petrus Dathenus and Lady Elizabeth de Grave.  It is based upon letters Dathenus wrote to Elizabeth in 1584 that were later collected and published in 1624.  Dathenus is more mature in the Christian faith and in this dialogue graciously explains to Elizabeth how to rightly distinguish between law and gospel and to find comfort in the work of Christ.  Those familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism will find many echoes of it throughout this wonderful little book.  My goal is to highlight some quotes from this gem.

To set the context, Elizabeth confesses faith in Christ but finds herself with heaviness of heart due to her failures. “First of all, I feel that I am one of those who knows Gods will but does not do it (Luke 12:47). Therefore I can only expect to be afflicted with many stripes. After all, the Bible says plainly that all those who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law; for not those who hear the law but those who do the law will be justified (Rom. 2:12-13).” p. 5 (See a related post on Romans 2:13 and the Covenant of Works).

Dathenus on Law:

The law is a declaration of the unchangeable will of God. By the threat of eternal damnation it binds everyone to complete and perpetual obedience, to fulfill all that God has commanded in His commandments (Deut. 5:6; 27:26). Wherever either the Old or New Testament teaches that this perfect obedience is required of us, there the law is emphasized and taught (James 2:10; Gal. 3:12). p. 8

All precepts that admonish us and exhort us to perform all that we owe to God and to our neighbor are law. For example, the entire fifth chapter of Matthew, where Jesus says to us, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause;…whosoever shall say, Thou fool” (Mat. 5:22); “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust” (Mat. 5:28); and all similar statements they are all the law, which demands of us that which we are not able to keep and requires what we are not able to perform. Just to cite another example, where Jesus says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mat. 19:17). There He speaks of and prods us with the law; also wherever He requires something similar of us. So also for various reasons Paul, Peter, John, and other apostles have done, in their writings and exhortations. p. 8

While it may seem unfair that the law commands perfect obedience, Dathenus in his counsel wisely directs Elizabeth to consider Adam, being created upright in the Garden.  He writes, “The law had its beginning when God created Adam in His image and implanted His law in Adams heart. The law of God was there then, as the image of God in which Adam was created, made as Paul says, in true righteousness and holiness.”  Elizabeth acknowledges “…Adam was created to rightly know and love his Creator, to obey Him and to do good to his neighbor in love.” Both here are echoing Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 6.

6. Did God create man thus, wicked and perverse?

No, but God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.

Dathenus then draws out the distinction between Adam’s moral ability prior to the fall and our inability in our post fall condition to obey God perfectly as he has commanded.

“God not only gave Adam His law but also the ability and liberty to completely fulfill the law. For Adam, as he was created, was wise, pure, and immortal. Once Adam had fallen from innocence, he became a servant and slave of sin and of the devil. Adam stood before the choice of life and death, and by the exercise of his own free will, he chose death. By this fall Adam not only brought death to himself, but also to all his descendants.” p. 10

When Elizabeth questions the justice of God, Dathenus writes, “Notice that in creating humanity, God gave humans the freedom and ability to keep His law perfectly. How can it be unjust of God to require back from us what He has once granted us?” p. 12

Once Dathenus has laid the initial groundwork of the law, the discussion ensues regarding the Gospel.

Dathenus on Gospel:

The Greek word for gospel denotes joyful good news which causes people to speak and sing joyfully and be glad in heart, just like the good news that came to Israel that David had triumphed over the arrogant Goliath and slain him (1 Sam. 18:6).

Such also is the good news of the gospel that proclaims to us and tells us that God will be gracious to a poor sinner, and will forgive and forget our sins (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12). Yes, for Christs sake (1 Tim. 1:15) God will regard us as holy and righteous (2 Cor. 5:21), out of pure grace, by faith alone, without adding any works (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:28). p. 17

The Pearl of Christian Comfort by Petrus Dathenus is available through Reformation Heritage Books.

Related Posts:

The Distinction between Law and Gospel in Reformed Faith and Practice by Michael Horton

Petrus Dathenus (1531-1588) – Law and Gospel (Portion of the Full Dialogue) at iustitia aliena

Properly distinguishing Moses and Christ from The Pearl of Christian Comfort at Reformedreader

The Gospel in the Narrow Sense, Herman Witsius

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 82 Thomas Vincent

The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved from Scripture
by Thomas Vincent

LXXXII. Ques. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
Ans. No mere man since the fall is able, in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them, in thought, word, and deed.

Q. 1. What is it perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. To keep perfectly the commandments of God, is to keep all the commandments of God, and at all times, without the least breach of them, in regard of’ disposition, inclination, thought, affection, word, or conversation.

Q. 2. Was ever any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. Before the fall, the first man, Adam, was able perfectly to keep God’s commandments, he having power given unto him in the first creation, to fulfil the condition of the first covenant of works, which required perfect obedience; but since the fall no mere man is able to do this.

Q. 3. Was not the Lord Jesus Christ able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. The Lord Jesus Christ was both able and also did perfectly keep the commandments of God; but he was not a mere man, being both God and man in one person. “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”— Heb. 4:15. “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”— Rom. 9:5.

Q. 4. Shall ever any mere man be able perfectly to keep God’s commandments?
A. The saints, who are mere men, though not in this life, yet hereafter in heaven they shall be made perfect themselves, and be enabled perfectly to obey God in whatsoever it is that he shall require of them. “We are come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”— Heb. 12:22, 23.

Q. 5. Do not the saints on earth keep the commandments of God?
A. The saints on earth do keep the commandments of God sincerely, but not perfectly. “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in godly sincerity we have had our conversation in this world.”— 2 Cor. 1:12. “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?”— Ps. 130:3.

Q. 6. Do no saints attain perfection here in this life?
A. 1. All saints ought to endeavour after perfection, and that they may attain higher and higher degrees thereof. “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”— Matt. 5:48. 2. No saints on earth ever did attain absolute perfection, so as to obey God in all things, at all times, without any sin.

Q. 7. How do you prove that no saints ever did attain perfection in this life?
A. That no saints did ever attain perfection in this life may be proved— 1. Because the best of saints in this life, are renewed but in part, and have remainders of flesh and corruption, which do rebel and war against the Spirit and renewed part in them. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”— Gal. 5:17. 2. Because the Scripture telleth us expressly that none are without sin; and that such are deceivers of themselves, and make God a liar, that affirm the contrary. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”— Eccles. 7:20. “For there is no man that sinneth not.”— l Kings 8:46. “For in many things we offend all.”— James 3:2. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”— 1 John 1:8, 10. 3. Because the Scripture hath recorded the sins of the most holy that ever lived. Abraham’s dissimulation concerning his wife. “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister.” — Gen. 20:2. The like dissimulation of Isaac. “And he said, She is my sister; for he feared to say She is my wife.”— Gen. 26:7. Jacob’s lie to his father. “And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.”— Gen. 27:24. Joseph’s Swearing by the life of Pharaoh. “By the life of Pharaoh, ye shall not go hence, except your youngest brother come hither.”— Gen. 42:15. Moses’ unadvised speech. “They provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.”— Ps. 106:33. The Scripture recorded Noah’s drunkenness; Lot’s incest; David’s murder and adultery; Job’s and Jeremiah’s impatience, and cursing their birthday; Peter’s denial of his Master with oaths and curses, and his dissimulation afterwards before the Jews; Paul and Barnabas’ contention. And if such persons as these, who were filled with the Holy Ghost, and had as great a measure of grace as any whom we read of; either in the Scriptures or any history, were not perfect, without sin, we may safely conclude that no saints, in this life, have ever attained unto absolute perfection.

Q. 8. Doth not the Scripture tell us,”Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God ?”— 1 John 3:9. And if the saints are without sin in their life, are they not perfect?
A. 1. If the sense of this place should be, that such as are born of God do not commit sin at all, then no regenerate persons which are born of God would ever be found committing sin; but the Scripture doth record the sins of many regenerate persons, as hath been shown, and experience doth evidence the same, that such as are born of God commit sin; and therefore that cannot be the meaning of the place, that such as are born of God do not commit sin at all. 2. Such as are born of God do not commit sin; that is, (1.) They do not commit sin with the full consent of their will, which is in part renewed; and which, so far as it is renewed, doth oppose sin, though sometimes it may be overpowered by the strength and violence of temptation. (2.) They do not live in a course of sin, as the unregenerate do. (3.) They do not commit sin unto death. ” All unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;” that is, not unto death.— 1 John 5:17, 18.

Q. 9. Doth not God himself testify concerning Job that he was a perfect man? “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him upon the earth, a perfect man ?”— Job 1:8. Doth not Hezekiah also plead his perfection with the Lord when he was sick? ” Remember now how I have walked before thee with a perfect heart.”— 2 Kings 20:3. And doth not Paul also assert himself; and other Christians, to be perfect? ” Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.”— Phil. 3:15. And how, then, is perfection unattainable by the saints in this life?
A. 1. This perfection which is ascribed unto the saints in the Scripture, is not to be understood of absolute perfection and freedom from all sin, for the reasons already given, which prove the contrary; but it is to be understood of sincerity, which is evangelical perfection, or at the farthest, of comparative perfection, not an absolute perfection. 2. Thus we are to understand the perfection which God testifieth of Job. “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect man?” that is, so perfect as he is, “a perfect and upright man.” His perfection did consist in his uprightness and sincerity; and that Job was not absolutely perfect doth appear from his sin a little after, in his cursing his birth day. “Let the day perish wherein I was born.” Job 3:3. And after he is charged with sin. “He multiplieth his words against God.”— Job 34:37. 3. So also Hezekiah’s perfection, which he pleadeth, was no more than his sincerity. “Remember I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.” And the Scripture doth note his sin a little after, which is a clear evidence that he was Dot absolutely perfect. “But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore wrath was upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.”— 2 Chron. 32:25. 4. In the same place where the apostle Paul doth assert himself and other Christians to be perfect, he doth acknowledge that he was not perfect. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended,” &c.— Phil. 3:12, 13. Therefore the perfection which he had attained, which he speaketh of verse 15, is to be understood of evangelical perfection; the perfection which he had not attained, is to be understood of absolute perfection. It is evident, therefore, that no saints do attain absolute perfection in this life; and such as do pretend unto it, it is through their ignorance of themselves and of God, and the extent of God’s law.

Q. 10. Do all the children of men, and the saints themselves, break the commandments of God in this life?
A. The saints themselves, and much more such as are no saints, do daily break the commandments of God in thought, word, and deed. “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth “— Gen. 8:21. “The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison “— James 3:8. “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”— John 3:19.

Q. 11. Are all thoughts of sin breaches of God’s commandments, when they are without evil words or actions?
A. All thoughts of sin are breaches of God’s commandments, without evil words or actions, when they are accompanied with evil inclinations, desires, and affections. “‘Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”— Matt. 5:28. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, foruications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” — Matt. 15:19.

Q. 12. May not the saints in this life be kept from sinful thoughts, words, and actions?
A. 1. The saints in this life cannot be wholly free from all sinful thoughts, words, and actions, because all, even the best of saints, through remaining corruption, are subject to daily infirmities and defects. 2. The saints in this life may be kept from all~gross sins of thoughts, words, and deeds, and they are kept from the reigning power of any sin.

Q. 13. How are the saints kept from gross sins, and the reigning power of any sin?
A. The saints are kept from gross sins and the reigning power of any sin— l. By the reigning of Christ in their hearts. 2. The mortification of sin in the root of it through the Spirit. 3. By watchfulness against sin in the thoughts. 4. By avoiding occasion of sin, and resisting temptations unto it.


Calvin on Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37

Matthew 22:34-40

Mark 12:28-34

Luke 10:25-37

34. But when the Pharisees heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they assembled together. 35. And one of them, a doctor of the law, put a question to him, tempting him, and saying, 36. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37. Jesus saith to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38. This is the first and great commandment. 39. And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as much as thyself. 40. On these two commandments the whole law and the prophets depend.

28. And when one of the scribes came, and heard them disputing together, and saw that he had answered them well, he put a question to him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29. And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. 30. And, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment. 31. And the second, which is like it, is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: there is no other commandment greater than these. 32. And the scribe said to him, Master, thou hast answered well with truth, that there is one God, and there is no other besides him. 33. And that to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is better than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34. And Jesus, when he saw that he had replied skillfully, said to him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And after that, no man ventured to put a question to him.

25. And, lo, a certain lawyer 71 rose up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26. And he said to him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? 27. He answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. 28. And he said to him, Thou hast answered right: do this, and thou shalt live. 29. But he wishing to justify himself, said to Jesus, and Who is my neighbor? 30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who even stripped him of his raiment, and, having wounded him, went away, leaving him half-dead. 31. And it happened that a certain priest came down that way, and having seen him, passed by. 32. And in like manner a Levite, going near the place, having approached and seen him, passed by. 33. And a certain Samaritan, on his journey, came to him, and when he saw him, was moved with compassion. 34. And approaching, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and, setting him on his own beast, conducted him to an inn, and took care of him. 35. And, next day, as he was departing, he drew out two denarii, and gave them to the landlord, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatever thou spendest more, when I return, I will repay thee. 36. Which therefore of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor to him who fell among robbers? 37. And he said, He who took compassion on him. Jesus therefore said to him, Go, and do thou in like manner.

Although I think that this narrative has nothing more than a resemblance to what is related by Matthew in the 22nd, and by Mark in the 12th chapter, of his Gospel, and that they are not the same; I have chosen to collect them into one place, because, while Matthew and Mark affirm that this was the last question by which our Lord was tempted, Luke makes no mention of that circumstance, and seems intentionally to leave it out, because he had stated it in another passage. And yet I do not dispute that it may be the same narrative, though Luke has some things different from the other two. They all agree in this, that the scribe put a question for the sake of tempting Christ; but he who is described by Matthew and Mark goes away with no bad disposition; for he acquiesces in Christ’s reply, and shows a sign of a teachable and gentle mind: to which must be added, that Christ, on the other hand, declares that he is not far from the kingdom of God. Luke, on the other hand, introduces a man who was obstinate and swelled with pride, in whom no evidence of repentance is discovered. Now there would be no absurdity in saying that Christ was repeatedly tempted on the subject of true righteousness, and of keeping the Law, and of the rule of a good life. But whether Luke has related this out of its proper place, or whether he has now passed by the other question — because that former narrative relating to doctrine was sufficient — the similarity of the doctrine seemed to require me to compare the three Evangelists with each other.

Let us now see what was the occasion that led this scribe to put a question to Christ. It is because, being an expounder of the Law, he is offended at the doctrine of the gospel, by which he supposes the authority of Moses to be diminished. At the same time, he is not so much influenced by zeal for the Law, as by displeasure at losing some part of the honor of his teaching. He therefore inquires at Christ, if he wishes to profess any thing more perfect than the Law; for, though he does not say this in words, yet his question is ensnaring, for the purpose of exposing Christ to the hatred of the people. Matthew and Mark do not attribute this stratagem to one man only, but show that it was done by mutual arrangement, and that out of the whole sect one person was chosen who was thought to excel the rest in ability and learning. In the form of the question, too, Luke differs somewhat from Matthew and Mark; for, according to him, the scribe inquires what men must do to obtain eternal life, but according to the other two Evangelists, he inquires what is the chief commandment in the law. But the design is the same, for he makes a deceitful attack on Christ, that, if he can draw any thing from his lips that is at variance with the law, he may exclaim against him as an apostate and a promoter of ungodly revolt.

Luke 10:26. What is written in the law? He receives from Christ a reply different from what he had expected. And, indeed, no other rule of a holy and righteous life was prescribed by Christ than what had been laid down by the Law of Moses; for the perfect love of God and of our neighbors comprehends the utmost perfection of righteousness. Yet it must be observed, that Christ speaks here about obtaining salvation, in agreement with the question which had been put to him; for he does not teach absolutely, as in other passages, how men may arrive at eternal life, but how they ought to live, in order to be accounted righteous in the sight of God. Now it is certain that in the Law there is prescribed to men a rule by which they ought to regulate their life, so as to obtain salvation in the sight of God. That the Law can do nothing else than condemn, and is therefore called the doctrine of death, and is said by Paul to increase transgressions, (Romans 7:13,) arises not from any fault of its doctrine, but because it is impossible for us to perform what it enjoins. Therefore, though no man is justified by the Law yet the Law itself contains the highest righteousness, because it does not falsely hold out salvation to its followers, if any one fully observed all that it commands. 72 Nor ought we to look upon this as a strange manner of teaching, that God first demands the righteousness of works, and next offers a gratuitous righteousness without works; for it is necessary that men should be convinced of their righteous condemnation, that they may betake themselves to the mercy of God. Accordingly, Paul (Romans 10:5, 6) compares both kinds of righteousness, in order to inform us that the reason why we are freely justified by God is, that we have no righteousness of our own. Now Christ in this reply accommodated himself to the lawyer, and attended to the nature of his question; for he had inquired not how salvation must be sought, but by what works it must be obtained.

Matthew 22:37. Thou shalt love the Lord thou God. According to Mark, the preface is inserted, that Jehovah alone is the God of Israel; by which words God supports the authority of his law in two ways. For, first, it ought to be a powerful excitement to the worship of God, when we are fully convinced that we worship the actual Creator of heaven and earth, because indifference is naturally produced by doubt; and, secondly, because it is a pleasing inducement to love him, when he freely adopts us as his people. So then, that they may not hesitate, as usually happens in cases of uncertainty, the Jews are informed that the rule of life is prescribed to them by the true and only God; and, on the other hand, that they may not be kept back by distrust, God approaches to them in a familiar manner, and reminds them of his gracious covenant with them. And yet there is no reason to doubt that the Lord distinguishes himself from all idols, that the Jews may not be drawn aside from him, but may adhere to the pure worship of God himself. Now if uncertainty does not keep back the wretched worshippers of idols from being carried away to the love of them by impetuous zeal, what excuse is left for the hearers of the Law, if they remain indifferent, after that God has revealed himself to them?

What follows is an abridgment of the Law, 73 which is also found in the writings of Moses, (Deuteronomy 6:5.) For, though it is divided into two tables, the first of which relates to the worship of God, and the second to charity, Moses properly and wisely draws up this summary, 74 that the Jews may perceive what is the will of God in each of the commandments. And although we ought to love God far more than men, yet most properly does God, instead of worship or honor, require love from us, because in this way he declares that no other worship is pleasing to Him than what is voluntary; for no man will actually obey God but he who loves Him. But as the wicked and sinful inclinations of the flesh draw us aside from what is right, Moses shows that our life will not be regulated aright till the love of God fill all our senses. Let us therefore learn, that the commencement of godliness is the love of God, because God disdains the forced services of men, and chooses to be worshipped freely and willingly; and let us also learn, that under the love of God is included the reverence due to him.

Moses does not add the mind, but mentions only the heart, and the soul, and the strength; and though the present division into four clauses is more full, yet it does not alter the sense. For while Moses intends to teach generally that God ought to be perfectly loved, and that whatever powers belong to men ought to be devoted to this object, he reckoned it enough, after mentioning the soul and the heart, to add the strength, that he might not leave any part of us uninfluenced by the love of God; and we know also that under the word heart the Hebrews sometimes include the mind, 75 particularly when it is joined to the word soul What is the difference between the mind and the heart, both in this passage and in Matthew, I do not trouble myself to inquire, except that I consider the mind to denote the loftier abode of reason, from which all our thoughts and deliberations flow.

It now appears from this summary that, in the commandments of the Law, God does not look at what men can do, but at what they ought to do; since in this infirmity of the flesh it is impossible that perfect love can obtain dominion, for we know how strongly all the senses of our soul are disposed to vanity. Lastly, we learn from this, that God does not rest satisfied with the outward appearance of works, but chiefly demands the inward feelings, that from a good root good fruits may grow.

39. And the second is like it. He assigns the second place to mutual kindness among men, for the worship of God is first in order. The commandment to love our neighbors, he tells us, is like the first, because it depends upon it. For, since every man is devoted to himself, there will never be true charity towards neighbors, unless where the love of God reigns; for it is a mercenary love 76 which the children of the world entertain for each other, because every one of them has regard to his own advantage. On the other hand, it is impossible for the love of God to reign without producing brotherly kindness among men.

Again, when Moses commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he did not intend to put the love of ourselves in the first place, so that a man may first love himself and then love his neighbors; as the sophists of the Sorbonne are wont to cavil, that a rule must always go before what it regulates. But as we are too much devoted to ourselves, Moses, in correcting this fault, places our neighbors in an equal rank with us; thus forbidding every man to pay so much attention to himself as to disregard others, because kindness unites all in one body. And by correcting the self-love (φιλαυτίαν) which separates some persons from others, he brings each of them into a common union, and—as it were—into a mutual embrace. Hence we conclude, that charity is justly pronounced by Paul to be

the bond of perfection, (Colossians 3:14,)

and, in another passage, the

fulfilling of the law, (Romans 13:10😉

for all the commandments of the second table must be referred to it.

Luke 10:28. Do this, and thou shalt live. I have explained a little before, how this promise agrees with freely bestowed justification by faith; for the reason why God justifies us freely is, not that the Law does not point out perfect righteousness, but because we fail in keeping it, and the reason why it is declared to be impossible for us to obtain life by it is, that

it is weak through our flesh, (Romans 8:3.)

So then these two statements are perfectly consistent with each other, that the Law teaches how men may obtain righteousness by works, and yet that no man is justified by works, because the fault lies not in the doctrine of the Law, but in men. It was the intention of Christ, in the meantime, to vindicate himself from the calumny which, he knew, was brought against him by the unlearned and ignorant, that he set aside the Law, so far as it is a perpetual rule of righteousness.

29. But he wishing to justify himself. This question might appear to be of no importance for justifying a man. But if we recollect what was formerly stated, that the hypocrisy of men is elderly detected by means of the second table—for, while they pretend to be eminent worshippers of God, they openly violate charity towards their neighbors—it will be easy to infer from this, that the Pharisee practiced this evasion, in order that, concealed under the false mask of holiness, he might not be brought forth to light. So then, aware that the test of charity would prove unfavorable to him, he seeks concealment under the word neighbor, that he may not be discovered to be a transgressor of the Law. But we have already seen, that on this subject the Law was corrupted by the scribes, because they reckoned none to be their neighbors but those who were worthy of it. Hence, too, this principle was received among them, that we have a right to hate our enemies, (Matthew 5:43.) For the only method to which hypocrites can resort for avoiding the condemnation of themselves, is to turn away as far as they are able, that their life may not be tried by the judgment of the Law.

30. And Jesus answering said. Christ might have stated simply, that the word neighbor extends indiscriminately to every man, because the whole human race is united by a sacred bond of fellowship. And, indeed, the Lord employed this word in the Law, for no other reason than to draw us sweetly to mutual kindness. The commandment would have run more clearly thus: Love every man as thyself. But as men are blinded by their pride, so that every man is satisfied with himself, scarcely deigns to admit others to an equal rank, and withholds from them the duties he owes them, the Lord purposely declares that all are neighbors that the very relationship may produce mutual love. To make any person our neighbor, therefore, it is enough that he be, a man; for it is not in our power to blot out our common nature.

But Christ intended to draw the reply from the Pharisee, that he might condemn himself. For in consequence of the authoritative decision being generally received among them, that no man is our neighbor unless he is our friend, if Christ had put a direct question to him, he would never have made an explicit acknowledgment, that under the word neighbor all men are included, which the comparison brought forward forces him to confess. The general truth conveyed is, that the greatest stranger is our neighbor, because God has bound all men together, for the purpose of assisting each other. He glances briefly, however, at the Jews, and especially at the priests; because, while they boasted of being the children of the same Father, and of being separated by the privilege of adoption from the rest of the nations, so as to be God’s sacred heritage, yet, with barbarous and unfeeling contempt, they despised each other, as if no relationship had subsisted between them. For there is no doubt that Christ describes the cruel neglect of brotherly kindness, with which they knew that they were chargeable. But here, as I have said, the chief design is to show that the neighborhood, which lays us under obligation to mutual offices of kindness, is not confined to friends or relatives, but extends to the whole human race.

To prove this, Christ compares a Samaritan to a priest and a Levite. It is well known what deadly hatred the Jews bore to the Samaritans, so that, notwithstanding their living close beside them, they were always at the greatest variance. Christ now says, that a Jew, an inhabitant of Jericho, on his journey from Jerusalem, having been wounded by robbers, received no assistance either from a Levite or from a priest, both of whom met with him lying on the road, and half-dead, but that a Samaritan showed him great kindness, and then asks, Which of these three was neighbor to the Jew? This subtle doctor could not escape from preferring the Samaritan to the other two. For here, as in a mirror, we behold that common relationship of men, which the scribes endeavored to blot out by their wicked sophistry; 77 and the compassion, which an enemy showed to a Jew, demonstrates that the guidance and teaching of nature are sufficient to show that man was created for the sake of man. Hence it is inferred that there is a mutual obligation between all men.

The allegory which is here contrived by the advocates of free will is too absurd to deserve refutation. According to them, under the figure of a wounded man is described the condition of Adam after the fall; from which they infer that the power of acting well was not wholly extinguished in him; because he is said to be only half-dead. As if it had been the design of Christ, in this passage, to speak of the corruption of human nature, and to inquire whether the wound which Satan inflicted on Adam were deadly or curable; nay, as if he had not plainly, and without a figure, declared in another passage, that all are dead, but those whom he quickens by his voice, (John 5:25.) As little plausibility belongs to another allegory, which, however, has been so highly satisfactory, that it has been admitted by almost universal consent, as if it had been a revelation from heaven. This Samaritan they imagine to be Christ, because he is our guardian; and they tell us that wine was poured, along with oil, into the wound, because Christ cures us by repentance and by a promise of grace. They have contrived a third subtlety, that Christ does not immediately restore health, but sends us to the Church, as an innkeeper, to be gradually cured. I acknowledge that I have no liking for any of these interpretations; but we ought to have a deeper reverence for Scripture than to reckon ourselves at liberty to disguise its natural meaning. And, indeed, any one may see that the curiosity of certain men has led them to contrive these speculations, contrary to the intention of Christ.

Matthew 22:40. On these two commandments. I now return to Matthew, where Christ says that all the Law and the prophets depend on these two commandments; not that he intends to limit to them 78 all the doctrine of Scripture, but because all that is anywhere taught as to the manner of living a holy and righteous life must be referred to these two leading points. For Christ does not treat generally of what the Law and the Prophets contain, but, in drawing up his reply, states that nothing else is required in the Law and the prophets than that every man should love God and his neighbors; as if he had said, that the sum of a holy and upright life consists in the worship of God and in charity to men, as Paul states that charity is

the fulfilling of the law, (Romans 13:10.)

And therefore some ill-informed persons are mistaken in interpreting this saying of Christ, as if we ought to seek nothing higher in the Law and the Prophets. For as a distinction ought to be made between the promises and the commandments, so in this passage Christ does not state generally what we ought to learn from the word of God, but explains, in a manner suited to the occasion, the end to which all the commandments are directed. Yet the free forgiveness of sins, by which we are reconciled to God, — confidence in calling on God, which is the earnest of the future inheritance, — and all the other parts of faith, though they hold the first rank in the Law, do not depend on these two commandments; for it is one thing to demand what we owe, and another thing to offer what we do not possess. The same thing is expressed in other words by Mark, that there is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:32. Master, thou hast spoken well, and with truth. Mark alone mentions that the scribe was softened down; and it is worthy of notice that, though he had attacked Christ maliciously, and with the intention of taking him by surprise, not only does he silently yield to the latter, but openly and candidly assents to what Christ had said. Thus we see that he did not belong to the class of those enemies whose obstinacy is incurable; for, though they have been a hundred times convinced, yet they do not cease to oppose the truth in some manner. From this reply it may also be concluded, that Christ did not precisely include under these two words the rule of life, but embraced the opportunity which presented itself for reproving the false and hypocritical holiness of the scribes, who, giving their whole attention to outward ceremonies, almost entirely disregarded the spiritual worship of God, and cared little about brotherly kindness. Now though the scribe was infected by such corruptions, yet, as sometimes happens, he had obtained from the Law the seed of right knowledge, which lay choked in his heart, and on that account he easily allows himself to be withdrawn from the wicked custom.

33. Is better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. But it appears to be incongruous that sacrifices, which are a part of divine worship, and belong to the first table of the Law, should be reckoned of less importance than charity towards men. The reply is, Though the worship of God is greatly preferable, and is more valuable than all the duties of a holy life, yet its outward exercises ought not to be estimated so highly as to swallow up brotherly kindness. For we know that brotherly kindness, in itself and simply, is pleasing to God, though sacrifices are not regarded by him with delight or approbation, except with a view to another object. Besides, it is naked and empty sacrifices that are here spoken of; for our Lord contrasts a hypocritical appearance of piety with true and sincere uprightness. The same doctrine is to be found very frequently in the prophets, that hypocrites may know that sacrifices are of no value, unless spiritual truth be joined to them, and that God is not appeased by offerings of beasts, where brotherly kindness is neglected.

34. But when Jesus saw. Whether this scribe made any farther progress is uncertain; but as he had shown himself to be teachable, Christ stretches out the hand to him, and teaches us, by his example, that we ought to assist those in whom there is any beginning either of docility or of right understanding. There appear to have been two reasons why Christ declared that this scribe was not far from the kingdom of God. It was because he was easily persuaded to do his duty, and because he skillfully distinguished the outward worship of God from necessary duties. Nor was it so much with the design of praising as of exhorting him, that Christ declared that he was near the kingdom of God; and in his person Christ encourages us all, after having once entered into the right path, to proceed with so much the greater cheerfulness. By these words we are also taught that many, while they are still held and involved in error, advance with closed eyes towards the road, and in this manner are prepared for running in the course of the Lord, when the time arrives.

And after that, no man ventured to put a question to him. The assertion of the Evangelists, that the mouth of adversaries was stopped, so they did not venture any more to lay snares for Christ, must not be so understood as if’ they desisted from their wicked obstinacy; for they groaned within, like wild beasts shut up in their dens, or, like unruly horses, they bit the bridle. But the more hardened their obstinacy, and the more incorrigible their rebellion, so much the more illustrious was Christ’s triumph over both. And this victory, which he obtained, ought greatly to encourage us never to become dispirited in the defense of the truth, being assured of success. It will often happen, indeed, that enemies shall molest and insult us till the end, but God will at length secure that their fury shall recoil on their own heads, and that, in spite of their efforts, truth shall be victorious.

71     “Un docteur de la loy;” — “a doctor of the law.”
72     “S’il s’en trouvoit quelqu’un qui observast entierement ce qu’elle commande;” — “if any one were found who observed entirely what it commands.”
73     “Un abbregé ou sommaire de la Loy;” — “an abridgment or summary of the Law.”
74     “Moyse a fort bien et sagement comprins le tout en ce sommaire;” — “Moses has very properly and wisely comprehended the whole in this summary.”
75     “L’entendement;” — “the understanding.”
76     “Car l’amour qu’ont les enfans de ce monde les uns envers les autres n’est point une vray amour, mais est une amour mercenaire;” — “for the love which the children of the world have for each other is not a true love, but is mercenary love.”
77     “Par ur fausse glose et cavillation meschante;” — “by their false gloss and wicked sophistry.”
78     “Restraindre à ce sommaire;” — “to limit to this summary.”

The Law and the Gospel by Henry Eyster Jacobs



1. How is the Word of God divided?

Into Law and Gospel, or Command and Promise.

2. Does this distinction coincide with that between the Old and the New Testaments?

No. There is Gospel in the Old Testament, as the promise concerning Christ was made from man’s fall (Gen. 3: 15), and became fuller and clearer as the time of its fulfilment approached (see Chapter X, 1, 5). There is also Law in the New Testament, of which the Sermon on the Mount is a summary (see Chapter XIII, 9-12). But in the Old Testament, Law; in the New Testament, Gospel preponderates.

3. Where is this distinction briefly stated?

John 1:17—”The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 3:6—”Who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

In the former passage, the grace of the Gospel is contrasted with the inflexible rigor of the Law; and the fulfilment of the promise and the presence of the substance under the Gospel, with the types and shadows of the Law.

In the second passage, the points of contrast are: (a) Between the Law, or letter, as prescribing a course of conduct and making demands, but giving no power to obey: and the Gospel as bringing the Holy Spirit with His regenerating and renewing powers, (b) Between the Law as leading to despair, when the impossibility of meeting its demands is learned; and the Gospel as encouraging and cheering with its offer of Christ’s righteousness as our own. (c) Between the Law, as except through Christ nothing but a letter, and the Gospel, as being the fulfilment of the Law in us by the enkindling of love, (d) Between the Law as containing much that is typical and unintelligible until its true interpretation is found in the Gospel, and the Gospel as the goal of all that towards which the Law is directed.

4. What importance is attached to the distinction between Law and Gospel?

“This distinction between Law and Gospel is the highest art in Christianity, which all who boast or accept the Christian name, can or should know. For where there is a defect on this point, a Christian cannot be distinguished from a heathen or a Jew; for it is just here that the difference lies” (Luther).

The greatest care must be taken, “lest these two doctrines be mingled with one another, or out of the Gospel a law be made, whereby the merit of Christ is obscured and troubled consciences robbed of the comfort they would otherwise have” (Formula of Concord, 589).

5. What, then, is the main point of difference?

Everything in Holy Scripture that commands us to do or to give or to be something, or that forbids us to do or give, or be, is Law. Everything that asks us to receive something is Gospel. “By the Law, nothing else is meant than God’s Word and command, wherein He enjoins what we should do and leave undone, and demands our obedience. But the Gospel is that doctrine or Word of God that neither requires works of us, nor enjoins the doing of anything, but announces only the offered grace of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The Gospel offers God’s gifts and bids us only open the sack to receive them, while the Law gives nothing, but only takes and demands of us” (Luther).

Everything that reproves sin and threatens is Law; everything that encourages and comforts and offers the grace of God is Gospel (see Formula of Concord, 593).

“The Law shows sin; the Gospel, grace. The Law indicates the disease; the Gospel, the remedy. The Law, to use the words of Paul, is a minister of death; the Gospel, of life and peace” (Melanchthon).

Rom. 3:20—”Through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.’ Rom. 7:J—”I had not known sin except through the law.” Gal. 3:12—”The law is not of faith; but he that doeth them, shall live in them.”

6. Are the words “Law” and “Gospel” used in Holy Scripture in but one sense?

Each has various meanings. In its widest sense, Law includes all that God has revealed (Ps. 1:2). In a narrower sense, it refers to the Old Testament (John 10: 34), and particularly, the Pentateuch (Luke 24:44). In its strictest sense, as used here, it is God’s revelation of His will concerning man’s character and acts. So “Gospel,” in the widest sense, means all the doctrine taught by Christ and His Apostles (Mark 1: 1-14; 16: 15). Rut as contradistinguished from Law it designates the promise of grace through Christ, whether before His coming, or since He has come (Is. 41: 27; 52: 7: Rom. 10: 16; 1:2).

7. How has the Law been divided?

Into universal and particular. The former has been declared from the beginning, and pertains to all times and places. The latter was prescribed for temporary purposes to a particular nation. The former we know as the Moral Law; the latter is divided, according to its diverse purposes, into the Forensic and the Ceremonial.

8. What is the Moral Law?

God’s declaration concerning what He would have man be, do or omit to do. “Divine doctrine, wherein the true and unmistakable will of God is revealed, as to how man ought to be, in his nature, thoughts, words and works, in order to be pleasing and acceptable to God.” “Divine doctrine teaching what is right and pleasing to God, and reproving everything that is sin and contrary to God’s will” (see Chapter VIII, 2-4).

9. How has the Moral Law been distinguished?

Into Natural and Revealed. The former designates the original knowledge of God’s will impressed upon man’s nature when created, and constituting one of the features of the Image of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). (See Chapter VII, 27, 28.) While, by the Pall, this knowledge was largely lost and greatly corrupted and perverted, some traces of it still remain. Conscience, or the power to discriminate between right and wrong belongs to some extent to all men. “Human reason naturally understands in some way the law” (Apology, 85).

Rom. 2:14, 15—”For when the Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these not having the law, are the law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them.”

10. What is the office of the Natural Law?

To stimulate men to seek after God (Acts 17: 27), and when they fail to respond to convict them of sin (Rom. 1:20).

11. What shows its feebleness in man’s fallen estate?

Its merely superficial effects.  The knowledge of the extent of the inner corruption of the heart is learned only from the revealed law.

Rom. 7:7—”I have not known sin except through the law” (i. c. the revealed Moral Law); “for I had not known coveting except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” v. 8—”For apart from the law sin is dead.” The connection shows that the meaning is, that unless the Revealed Moral Law be known, the knowledge of sin is so weak that it may be accounted dead.

12. What is the Revealed Moral Law?

The declarations of God’s will repeatedly given to man since the Fall, and formally promulgated through Moses on Mt. Sinai, concerning matters of universal and permanent obligation.

13. Where is it summarized?

In general, in the Ten Commandments, and still further by Christ in Matt. 22 : 37-40:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And a second like unto it, is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments the whole law hangeth and the prophets.”

14. Where are the Ten Commandments repeated?

In Matt. 19: 18, 19; Mark 10: 19; Luke 18:20; Rom. 13:9.

15. Where is their meaning fully explained and applied?

In the Sermon on the Mount.

16. How can the perpetual obligation of particular precepts be determined, and their place in the Moral Law established?

Any precept of the Old Testament sanctioned by the express words of Christ or any of the inspired writers of the New Testament, belongs most clearly to the Moral Law.

17. Can we say that everything in the Ten Commandments as reported in Ex. 20 belongs to the Moral Law?

In the promise of the Fourth Commandment, the particular blessing was local and national. St. Paul, accordingly, shows in Eph. 6: 3, that there was a generic blessing, which lifted the promise to a higher level and gave it a vaster range. So the Third Commandment, concerning the Sabbath, contains a ceremonial element, which our Catechism, following St. Paul in Col. 2:16, traces to a generic command of universal obligation concerning the preaching and hearing of God’s Word, and of a cessation of labor for that purpose.

18. Is the Moral Law a code of co-ordinate and parallel precepts?

It is an organic whole, reducible first to two, and at last to one commandment, that of supreme love to God (Matt. 22: 37-40; Luke 10: 27).

19. What is its sphere?

It includes all the acts and states and relations of men. But it lays chief stress upon the inner life, the thoughts and intents of the heart (Matt. 5:22, 28), and summarizes all its demands in the one word “love.”

20. What obedience does the Moral Law demand?

That which is the most perfect and complete:

(a) As to the source of the acts. As above seen they must proceed from entire and completely self-surrendering and self-forgetting love, and be wrought by man’s undivided powers.

(b) As to the details of the acts. The failure of the least particular vitiates the whole. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

Deut. 27:26—”Cursed be he that confirmeth not the words of this law to do them.” Gal. 3:10—”Cursed is he that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.” James 2:10—”For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet shall stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

(c) As to perseverance. Even if perfection were attainable for a time, it is valueless unless maintained to the end.

Ez. 18:24—”When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness. and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he hath done shall be remembered; in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”

21. What is the result?

Man, because of his depraved and enfeebled nature, being unable to meet these demands, the Law which has been given for eternal life, becomes accidentally the occasion for eternal death. .

Rom. 7:10—”The commandment which was unto lite, this I found to be unto death.” v. 12—”So that the law is holy and righteous and good…. but sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good.”

The Epistle to the Romans opens with a long argument, showing the inability both of the Gentiles by the Natural, and of the Jews by the Revealed Law to attain justification before God.

Rom. 3:20—”By the works of the law, shall no flesh be justified; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

22. If the Law, therefore, cannot justify, is it not useless?

“As the argument is invalid, ‘Money does not justify, therefore it is useless’; ‘the eyes do not justify, therefore they should be torn out’; ‘the hands do not justify, therefore they must be amputated’; so, too, the argument is equally fallacious that the Law is useless, because it does not justify. We should ascribe to everything its proper office and use. In denying that it justifies, we do not destroy or condemn the Law” (Luther).

Another illustration of Luther is that the Law is food which the organs of the invalid, enfeebled by sin cannot digest.

23. What, then, is the use of the haw?

It has a three-fold use:

(a) Political. By its threats of punishment, it checks the violence of godless men, and protects society against external acts of crime. It is of this use that 1 Tim. 1:9 sq. speaks:

“The law is not made tor a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, tor the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for fornicators,” etc.

(b) Elenchtical. As it convicts or convinces of sin.

Rom. 3:2o—”Through the law, cometh the knowledge ot sin.”

This it does by bringing evidence not attainable by the light of nature, and by showing that what is chiefly significant is that, beneath the act, there is such a desperate state of sin. The Law is not only the standard, by which sins are discerned, but the light which displays them in all their heinousness and enormity. It does more than instruct concerning sin; the Holy Spirit uses it as a means to condemn and terrify on account of sin.

Rom. 4:15—”For the law worketh wrath.” John 16:8—”He will convict the world of sin. and of righteousness and of judgment.”

Thus the law indirectly leads or forces men to Christ (Gal. 3:24). This indirect office has been separated from the elenchtical use by our later Lutheran theologians and called the pedagogical.

24. Before proceeding to the third or didactic use, state whether the consideration of the sufferings of Christ, as an exhibition of God’s anger against sin, does not belong to the elenchtical use of the law, rather than to the Gospel.

The consideration of the sufferings of Christ has a double effect. They reveal, as nowhere else, the guilt of sin, and they testify to the love of God for sinners. The former belongs to the elenchtical use of the law ; the latter to the Gospel. See Formula of Concord, 591:

“What more forcible declaration of God’s wrath against sin is there, than the suffering and death of Christ His Son? But as long as this all preaches God’s wrath and terrifies men, it is still properly the preaching neither of the Gospel, nor of Christ, but of Moses and the Law against the impenitent. For the Gospel and Christ were never provided in order to terrify and condemn, but in order to comfort and cheer those who are terrified and timid.”

25. What, then, is the didactic or third use?

As a guide and standard for the regenerate. “The Holy Ghost teaches the regenerate, in the Ten Commandments, in what good works ‘God hath before ordained that they should walk’ (Eph. 2: 10)” (Formula of Concord, 597).

26. But why is this necessary, when the regenerate have the Holy Spirit who constantly impels them to do God’s will?

Because of their corrupt nature which is only partially renewed, they can never trust their own impulses, but must constantly test them by God’s law. in order to determine what is of God and what is of the flesh.

27. What is necessary for fulfilling the duty of a true Christian pastor in preaching the Law?

That all of these uses of the Law be constantly urged, and that none of their requirements be abated. The hearts of men are receptive to the Gospel only to the extent that they have been enlightened by the Law.

Matt. 5:6—”Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”

Great danger is always imminent lest the demands of the Law be relaxed in accommodation to the weaknesses of men, and lest, in commending purely external morality and urging its demands, its insufficiency for justification, and the deeper righteousness of the heart be overlooked.

28. What were the Forensic and the Ceremonial Law?

The Forensic Law was the code of the Israelitic State;

the Ceremonial, the ritual of the Israelitic Church.

29. How were they related to the Moral Law?

They are applications of the Moral Law to the temporary circumstances and conditions of the Jewish people. The Ceremonial Law provided for a series of exercises of the First Table of the Law, by defining the rites of worship and its circumstances. The Forensic Law provided for a series of exercises of the Second Table, by prescribing rules of conduct in respect to man’s social and civil relations. In the theocracy, everything was determined by direct and minute prescription. In the educational process, whereby God was training for Himself a people, at first nothing whatever was left to human freedom or man’s enlightened conscience. The period was one which had not received the endowment of the Spirit in His fulness. (See Chapter XVI, 4.)

30. How did the Forensic and Ceremonial Laws differ from the Moral?

(a) In mode of revelation. The Moral was implanted in man’s nature, at his creation; and on Sinai was only republished, whereas the Forensic and Ceremonial were given only through Moses.

(b) In obligation. The Moral Law is universal; the Forensic and Ceremonial Laws were obligatory only as long as the Israelitic State stood, and even then only upon Jews.

(c) In duration. The Moral Law is perpetual; since it is the declaration of God’s eternal will. But, as the Epistle to the Hebrews shows in a long argument, the Forensic and Ceremonial are limited in duration.

(d) In purpose. The object of the Forensic and Ceremonial Laws was to keep Israel separate from other nations, that through it God’s purposes for the race might be prepared. The Moral Law was to direct the experience and destiny of people of all nations and times, not only within, but beyond and above the limits of Israel.

31. How do you prove the abrogation of the Forensic Law?

The destruction of the Jewish State renders its administration an impossibility. Obedience to the rulers of other governments is commanded (Rom. 13: 1, 5; 1 Peter 2: 13 sq.). Citizenship in other States is approved (Acts 22:25; 25:10).

32. What were the contents of the Ceremonial Law?

Regulations concerning:

(a) Sacred persons—the high priest, the priests, Levites, Nazarites, etc., and prescriptions concerning personal matters, as food and drink, clothing and other matters pertaining to the individual or domestic life.

(b) Sacred things—the furniture, vessels and utensils for public worship, and the sacrifices and sacraments of the Old Testament.

A sacrifice is a sacred action, in which an object is offered to God through a prescribed ceremony, as an acknowledgment of the guilt of sin (Heb. 10:3), and a testimony to the complete and perfect sacrifice which God was hereafter to provide.

(c) Sacred times—the Sabbath, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Pentecost, the Sabbatical Year, the Feast of Jubilee.

(d) Sacred places—the Holy City, the Tabernacle, the Temple. In these buildings, each of its three divisions, the Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, had its peculiar significance.

33. What was the chief object of the Ceremonial Law?

To foreshadow the blessings to be procured and offered through Christ.

Col. 2:16, 17—”Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or of a new moon, or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s.”

34. How is the abrogation of the Ceremonial Law proved?

(a) From the argument of the Epistle to the Hebrews concerning Melchisedek.

Heb. 7:12—”For the priesthood being changed, there is made ot necessity a change also of the law.”

(b) From its argument concerning the temporary character of the first tabernacle.

Heb. 9:9—”Wrhich is a figure for the time present.” v. 12—”But Christ having come through the greater and more perfect tabernacle.”

(c) From the proceedings of the council at Jerusalem, the first synod of the Christian Church (Acts 15: 1 sqq.).

(d) From Peter’s vision (Acts 10: 11).

(e) From Paul’s rebuke of Peter (Gal. 2: 14-16), and of the Galatians, who insisted on the permanence of ceremonial ordinances.

Gal. 4:10, 11—”Ye observe days and months and seasons and years. 1 am afraid of you, lest by any means 1 have bestowed labor upon you in vain.” 5:2—”If ye receive circumcision, Christ shall profit you nothing.”

(f) When the body comes, its shadow disappears; the type yields to the antitype (Heb. 10: I; Col. 2: 17).

35. How is “Gospel” to be defined when contrasted with “Law”?

The promise of the gratuitous forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. (See above, 6.)

In the New Testament the verb “euaggelizein” occurs fifty-six, and the noun “euaggelion,” seventy-two times, In the Gospels and Acts, the reference is simply to “good tidings.” In Luke 16: 16, the contrast with “Law” first appears. In the Epistles the restriction to the specific good tidings brought by Christ becomes very marked, as in Gal. 1: 8; Rom. 1: 16. A study of the passages in the Gospels, in the light of the use of the word in the Epistles, shows that the same specific meaning belongs also there.

“It is the complex of the promises which are grateful, joyful and salutary to sinful men, a summary of which is found in John 3: 16” (Baier).

36. How does the Gospel regard Christ?

Solely in His Mediatorial Office, with its Priestly functions as the very center.

37. Can any doctrine concerning the goodness or the Fatherhood of God, which is not based upon a clear confession of the divinity and priestly work of Christ be termed “Gospel”?

In answer to some modern theologians who have had a wide hearing and who claim that the Gospel is not doctrine concerning Jesus Christ, but only concerning God the Father, we turn to Paul.

Rom. 1:1-4—”The Gospel of God, concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” etc

38. May it not be regarded a new law, offering salvation upon easier terms than were given by the former law?

Law and Gospel differ not in degree, but in kind. The Gospel offers an entirely different righteousness from that which is attainable by the Law (Rom. 1: 17; 3: 21).

39. How do they differ?

(a) In revelation. The Law partially by Nature (Rom. 2:15); the Gospel only through Christ (John 1:18; Rom. 16:26; Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:9; Matt. 11:25-27).

(b) In subject matter. The Law is doctrine concerning works, prescribing what we ought to be, to do, or to omit to do (Ex. 20) ; the Gospel is doctrine concerning faith (Rom. 1:17) offering Christ and bringing the Holy Spirit.

(c) In form. The promises of the Law are conditional, requiring perfect obedience (Lev. 18:5); those of the Gospel are gratuitous (Rom. 3:23-25; 4:4, 5).

(d) In effect. The Law accuses, terrifies, works wrath (Rom. 3:20; 4:20); the Gospel consoles. The Law makes known the disease; the Gospel brings the physician and the remedy (Rom. 1 : 16). (See also above, 3, 5.)

40. In what do they coincide?

Both are heavenly doctrine divinely revealed. Of both God is author. Of both the purpose is salvation, the inadequacy of the law being attributable to no inherent weakness, but to man’s inability, in his enfeebled state, to fulfil its requirements (Rom. 8:3; 7:12, 13). Both are universal; the Law announces a universal obligation: the other tenders a universal promise.  Both are of perpetual validity; the Law (Matt. 5:18); the Gospel (Matt. 28: 19 sq.; Rev. 14:6).

They harmoniously unite and co-operate, when the Law demands complete obedience, and the Gospel declares that this complete obedience has been rendered for us by Christ.

Rom. 3:31—”Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? nay, we establish the law.”

In Illumination, the Law shows the need of faith; in Regeneration, the Gospel brings faith. In the Renewal, the Law indicates the works that please God; while the Gospel brings the true motives and the strength to do these works (2 Cor. 5: 14, 15).

<a href=””&gt; Chapter XXV – The Law and the Gospel from A Summary of the Christian Faith by Henry Eyster Jacobs, 1905</a>

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