Sanctification Conference – Westminster Seminary California

PLENARY I: “Sanctification of the Justified”—David M. VanDrunen

PLENARY II: “Sanctification Explained”—S.M. Baugh

PLENARY III: “Sanctification Undermined”—Michael S. Horton

PLENARY IV: “Sanctification Applied”—Bryan D. Estelle

PLENARY V: “Sanctification Preached”—Dennis E. Johnson

Questions & Answers —Faculty Panel

PLENARY VI: “Sanctification Summarized”—W. Robert Godfrey

Source: Westminster Seminary California 2014 Annual Conference Resource Page

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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The Threefold Use of the Law – Louis Berkhof

The Threefold Use of the Law
1. A usus politicus or civilis. The law serves the purpose of restraining sin and promoting righteousness. Considered from this point of view, the law presupposes sin and is necessary on account of sin. It serves the purpose of God’s common grace in the world at large. This means that from this point of view it cannot be regarded a means of grace in the technical sense of the word.

2. A usus elenchticus or pedagogicus. In this capacity the law serves the purpose of bringing man under conviction of sin, and of making him conscious of his inability to meet the demands of the law. In that way the law becomes his tutor to lead him unto Christ, and thus becomes subservient to God’s gracious purpose of redemption.

3. A usus didacticus or normativus. This is the so-called tertius usus legis, the third use of the law. The law is a rule of life for believers, reminding them of their duties and leading them in the way of life and salvation. This third use of the law is denied by the Antinomians.

Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 614-615