The Law turned into Gospel / Gospel Obedience

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William Perkins ‘Christ fulfilling the law’ in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount 5:17

Christ fulfilled the law in men. Men may be of two sorts: elect and reprobates. In His elect, He fulfilled the law two ways: first, by creating faith in their hearts whereby they lay hold on Christ, who for them fulfilled it; secondly, by giving them His own Spirit which maketh them endeavour to fulfil the law; which in Christ is accepted for perfect obedience in this life, and in the life to come is perfect indeed.

Thomas Goodwin (Works, 6:261)

As faith turns the commands of the law into gospel in a regenerate man’s heart, so conscience, in an unregenerate man, turns the gospel into law. As faith writes the law in the heart, and urgeth the duties of it upon evangelical grounds and motives—as the love of Christ, conformity to him, union with him, and the free grace of God—so in a man unregenerate, gospel duties are turned into legal, through the sway and influence of conscience, and that dominion which the covenant of works hath over him.

Samuel Rutherford (The Covenant of Life Opened, 198-199)

The obedience of faith, or Gospel-obedience, in the fourth place, hath less of the nature of obedience than that of Adam, or of the elect angels, or that of Christ’s. It’s true we are called obedient children, and they are called the commandments of Christ, and Christ hath taken the moral law and made use of it in an evangelic way, yet we are more (as it were) patients in obeying gospel-commands. Not that we are mere patients, as Libertines teach; for grace makes us willing, but we have both supernatural habits and influences of grace furnished to us from the grace of Christ, who hath merited both to us; and so in Gospel-obedience we offer more of the Lord’s own and less of our own because he both commands and gives us grace to obey. And so to the elect believer the Law is turned in Gospel, he by his grace fulfilling (as it were) the righteousness of the Law in us by begun new obedience, Rom. 8:4.

Westminster Confession of Faith 19.6

It [the moral law] is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace. 

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

The commentary of Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg catechism pp. 617,18 objection 8

Obj. 8. The law is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. 3 : 6, 7.) But there is no condemnation to Christians. Therefore, the law does not have respect to Christians who are in Christ Jesus.

Ans. There is here a fallacy of accident ; for the law is not in itself the letter which killeth ; since this comes to pass by the fault of men, who, the more clearly they perceive the difference between themselves and the law, the more fully do they give themselves over to despair in reference to their salvation, and are therefore slam by the law. Again, the law alone, without the gospel, is the letter, that is, it is the doctrine which merely teaches, demands obedience, denounces the wrath of God and death to such as are disobedient, without producing the spiritual obedience which it requires. But when it is joined with the gospel, which is the Spirit, it also commences to become the Spirit, which is effectual in the godly, inasmuch as those who are regenerated commence willingly and cheerfully to yield obedience to the law. The law, therefore, is the letter, 1. By itself and without the gospel. 2. In respect to those who are unregenerated. On the other hand, the gospel is the Spirit; that is, it is the ministration and means through which the Holy Ghost, which works spiritual obedience in us, is given; not indeed as though all who hear, would receive the Holy Ghost and be regenerated, but because faith, by which our hearts are quickened, so that they begin to yield obedience to the law, is received by it. It does not follow, therefore, that the law is no longer to be taught in the church; for Christ himself says: “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” (Matt. 5: 17.) And Paul also says, that we establish the law through faith. (Rom. 3: 31.) Christ fulfilled the law in two respects: his obedience and suffering. He was just and holy in himself and did not violate the law in a single instance, but partly performed in our behalf those things which he was not bound to do, and partly sustained the punishment of the law. He also fulfills the law in us in two ways, by teaching it and granting unto us his Spirit, that so we may commence obedience to it, as we proved when speaking of the abrogation of the law.  

Portions of Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, 3rd unaltered edition, vol. 4 (Kampen, J. H. Kok, 1918)

Therefore, that law has reached its end in Christ, the seed of promise (Rom.10:4); the believer is free from the law (Gal.4:26f.; 5:1), since he is redeemed through Christ from the curse of the law (Gal.3:13; 4:5), and shares in the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of freedom (Rom.8:15; 2 Cor.3:16-17; Gal.5:18).
This freedom of faith, however, does not invalidate the law, but establishes it (Rom.3:31), since its legal requirement is fulfilled precisely in those who walk according to the Spirit (Rom.8:4). After all, that Spirit renews believers so that they delight in God’s law according to the inner man and inquire as to what God’s holy will is (Rom.7:22; 12:2; Eph.5:10; Phil.1:10), while they are spurred on through various impulses — the great mercy of God, the example of Christ, the costly price with which they have been purchased, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, etc. — to the doing of God’s will…..
...The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night.

 

 

For more great quotes visit  https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/sundry-quotes-from-solid-reformed-men-on-law-and-gospel/

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