Colquhoun on Law and Gospel

colquhoun-john-the-law-and-gospelJohn Colquhoun (1748-1827) was a minister in the Church of Scotland whose sermons and writings reflect those of the Marrow brethren of the Secession church. Colquhoun‘s writings are theologically astute and intensely practical. He wrote on the core doctrines of the gospel, particularly on experiential soteriology. In this book, Colquhoun helps us understand the precise relationship between law and gospel. He also impresses us with the importance of knowing this relationship. Colquhoun especially excels in showing how important the law is as a believer‘s rule of life without doing injury to the freeness and fullness of the gospel. By implication, he enables us to draw four practical conclusions: 1) the law shows us how to live, 2) the law as a rule of life combats both antinomianism and legalism, 3) the law shows us how to love, and 4) the law promotes true freedom.

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  1. Hi mate. This is not related to this post, so sorry to hijack it, but I was just wondering what are your thoughts on preaching.

    In particular, do you think the word that’s translated ‘preaching’ in the New Testament refers only to the public (usually in a church) proclamation of the gospel of Jesus?

    Or is it the same thing when we have one-to-one evangelism or Bible studies?

    This topic is causing me a lot of angst, in particular with regards to how best to evangelise our friends.

  2. Regarding this issue of “how important law is as a believer‘s rule of life”, it was interesting to me that the “Daily Confession” today included Larger Catechism:

    “Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law to man since the fall?
    A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law:[402] yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate.[403]”

    And yet, the cited Scripture (403) explaining the use of the moral life to all men, unregenerate or regenerate, was just 1 Timothy 1:8: “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,”. It did not include the following verse 9: “realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious …”.

    So, we are left trying to figure out the role of the law in a believer’s life.

    The Heidelberg Catechism is helpful, but it does not sufficiently specifically state this question nor answer it. It is more general: “Question 115. Why will God then have the ten commandments so strictly preached, since no man in this life can keep them? Answer. First, that all our lifetime we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavor and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us, in a life to come.”.

    Scripture does specifically answer the question more directly as to the role of the Law in a believer’s life.

    “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:24-25.

    “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:4-6.

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