I’ve been patient with this for many years, but today I’m compelled to say it: one of the most theologically irresponsible things anyone can say is “the law is the gospel.” Sadly, I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard it from people who should know better.
The issue is a failure to define and distinguish properly. The categories get fuzzy. It starts with grammar. There are distinguishable imperatives and indicatives in the Bible. An imperative is a command; an indicative expresses factual statements. The typical form for biblical law is the imperative. The typical form for the gospel is the indicative. The imperative tells us what we’re to do; the indicative tells us what God has done, is doing, and will do.
…This law/gospel contrast is found in our Reformed confessions. In Lord’s Day 2 of our Heidelberg Catechism, we confess that we know our sins and misery “from the law of God.” Just knowing your sin and misery isn’t good news. What is good news is what’s mentioned in Lord’s Day 7. It’s all that God promises us in the gospel, as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed. The gospel has a promissory character. In chapter 2 of the Canons of Dort, we confess that “the promise of the gospel is that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life.” In chapter 3-4 of the Canons, because the law is inadequate to save us (how can that be good news?), we need “the gospel of the Messiah.” In no place in the Reformed confessions do we find that “the law is the gospel.” Instead, they’re sharply distinguished. Read More»
Wes Bredenhof | “Stop Saying The Law Is Gospel” | September 20, 2022
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- Resources on the Law/Gospel Distinction
- Bavinck Distinguished Law And Gospel
- Calvin: Paul Distinguishes Between Law And Gospel
- Olevianus On The Distinction Between Law And Gospel
- Do The Reformed Distinguish Between Law And Gospel?
- Perkins: Rome Confuses Law And Gospel
- Santa Is Law, Not Gospel