Law & Gospel

A collection of resources related to the biblical understanding of the relationship between God's holy law and the gospel of grace.

  • Against the Law Article by Mark Jones

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2013

    There are few theological aberrations more difficult to define than antinomianism. Some simply look at the etymology of the word and conclude that antinomians are against (anti) God’s law (nomos). Others are a bit more specific, suggesting that antinomians are those who deny the third use of the law (the law as a guide for the Christian life; for example, Eph. 6:1) as normative for the Christian believer. Still others contend that we should distinguish between theoretical antinomianism—just described—and practical antinomianism. Practical antinomianism may take on two forms. The first group are those who claim to be Christians … View Resource

  • Grace and Law? Article by John Sartelle

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2009

    You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). When one becomes a Christian there are certain changes that usually take place in his life. It was my privilege to witness God draw an Air Force general to Christ over a two-year period. When I first met this veteran of World War II he was an atheist, and his language was as “colorful” as his personality. I soon realized that his strong words misusing the Lord’s name were permanently sewn into the fabric of his everyday life. However … View Resource

  • Delighting in Our Duty Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2013

    When we think of the law of God, the first thing that should come to mind is love—God’s love for us as fallen sinners, directing us to love Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him. God’s law is a gracious gift to us, and it has three primary uses. First, the law functions as a teacher by showing us God’s perfect righteousness and our unrighteousness and sin, and it shows our danger of God’s judgment, leading us, by God’s grace, in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ who fulfilled all the righteous demands of God’s … View Resource

  • Preaching Grace Article by Robert Norris

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2010

    Doctrine is the necessary basis for a sound spiritual life, and defective doctrine almost inevitably leads to a distorted spiritual life. Nowhere is this truth more evident than in understanding the relationship between the old covenant law and the gospel, which is a theological issue with enormous practical implications. Its importance was recognized by Martin Luther, who could write that “whoever knows well this art of distinguishing between Law and Gospel, him place at the head and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture.” The gospel always demonstrates that God’s perfect law and His love were fulfilled on the cross … View Resource

  • Preaching Grace Article by Richard Ganz

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2008

    It was a beautiful, sunny morning. My wife and I were sitting on our porch, enjoying a rare, completely undisturbed moment together, when a white sedan drove up our laneway and stopped a few feet from us. The well-dressed driver got out, while the young woman remained in the car. I could see it in an instant. I looked at my wife Nancy, and whispered: “Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ll take care of this.” The man came up to me and said, “Good morning.” Before he could say another word, I took the offensive. “Yes, and the world is getting … View Resource

  • Lighting the Way: The Didactic Use of the Law Article by Robert Letham

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    In Reformed theology, the law has been seen as the guide for believers in the conduct of their lives. John Calvin described this as its principal use. In this sense, we are talking about the Decalogue — the Ten Commandments — and its entailments, not the ceremonial or the civil law, nor the law in its old covenantal terms. This does not mean that the law has any inherent power to change us. Paul establishes this point in Romans 7:1–8:8. The law is weak, not because of any defect in itself but due to our sinful natures. It … View Resource

  • Reflecting Sin: The Pedagogical Use of the Law Article by David Murray

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    Ouch!” That first look in the mirror every morning doesn’t get any easier, does it? In fact, I’d rather do without looking in mirrors at all. And I might get away with it — for a few days. Because, although I wouldn’t know my hair was looking like a mohawk, that yesterday’s ketchup was still on my chin, or that last night’s basil was lodged between my front teeth, my wife and children would, and so would my employer and colleagues. And that might well have more painful consequences — socially and even financially — than just looking in the … View Resource

  • Restraining Sin: The Civil Use of the Law Article by David VanDrunen

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    Of the three uses of the law, the so-called “civil” use may strike us as the least interesting theologically. It involves no inward transformation of the heart or Spirit-wrought righteousness that is pleasing in God’s sight. By this use, the law restrains the sinful excesses of sinners through the fear of shame and punishment, promoting an external obedience to moral standards and a measure of peace in society. It may be hard to get excited about this civil use of the law in comparison to the pedagogical use, which exposes people’s unrighteousness and drives them to repent of their sins … View Resource

  • The Goodness of the Law Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    Oh how I love your law!” (Ps. 119:97). What a strange statement of affection. Why would anyone direct his love toward the law of God? The law limits our choices, restricts our freedom, torments our consciences, and pushes us down with a mighty weight that cannot be overcome, and yet the psalmist declares his affection for the law in passionate terms. He calls the law sweeter than honey to his mouth (Ps. 119:3). What is it about the law of God that can provoke such affection? In the first place, the law is not an abstract set … View Resource

  • Our Liberating God Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2011

    Why would anyone love the law of God? Why would we love that which constantly tells us what miserable wretches we are, daily points out all our shortcomings, relentlessly reminds us of all our death-deserving sins, and keeps knocking us down to our knees, leaving us crying out for help? The truth of the matter is that not just anyone loves the law of God but only those who have been set free by our law-giving, law-keeping, and law-liberating Savior. We love the law of God not because we possess some sort of inherent self-inflicting, self-deprecating sadistic disposition towards our … View Resource

  • Law and Gospel Article by Michael Horton

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2006

    As has already been pointed out in this issue, “Reformed” theology just is “covenant” theology. However, that doesn’t necessarily settle the question as to what kind of covenant theology is being espoused. By far the question that has been taken up the most in the history of Reformed theology is whether the covenant that Israel made with God at Sinai is a re-publication or renewal of the covenant of works made with humanity in Adam. Agreeing on the covenant of works/covenant of grace scheme, Reformed pastors and theologians nevertheless differed over the question of the Mosaic covenant. Was Israel … View Resource

  • The Law of God Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | April 1989

    In giving a summary of what constitutes the true knowledge of God, we showed that we cannot form any just conception of the character of God, without feeling overawed by His majesty, and bound to do Him service. —John Calvin Yesterday, a man I met for the first time asked me, “And what is the Lord doing in your life?” (Something about how he asked the question, the tone of his voice, and his manner in it disturbed me.) The manner of asking was a bit too casual, as if the utterance was mechanical. I suppressed my annoyance and … View Resource

  • Walking by the Spirit Devotional

    Galatians 5:16–17

    John Calvin comments, “If we would obey the Spirit, we must labor, and fight, and apply our utmost energy; and we must begin with self-denial.” Walking by the Holy Spirit is the denial of the self and one’s fleshly desires and turning to Christ to follow His example, asking the Spirit to enable us to do so. Consider today where you might be following the desires of the flesh and not the way of the Spirit. Repent and ask the Spirit to help you follow Jesus. View Resource

  • The Distortion of Lawlessness Devotional

    Romans 6:1-14

    Of all the types of antinomianism, we are perhaps most prone to look for loopholes in the law of God. So, for instance, we may excuse certain behaviors because there is no express command in Scripture against them, even though our intent and attitude in doing such things is clearly and undeniably sinful. May we take care in reading Scripture that we never look for ways to get out of the demands it places upon us. View Resource

  • Obedience and Delight Devotional

    Psalm 1:1-2

    True love for God’s law is not legalism (adding to God’s rules or demanding that we obey the civil and ceremonial laws fulfilled in Christ). Love for the law makes us try to follow it truly without imposing unnecessary or ungodly burdens on others. Do you love God’s law or do you consider it an enemy? If you have been born again, the law of God is on your side. You please God as you follow this law, by the Spirit, and thank Him for declaring you righteous in Christ apart from the law. View Resource

  • Guided by the law Devotional

    Matthew 15:1–9

    Under the old covenant, the covenant community was enslaved to sin and, therefore, burdened by God’s law. In contrast, we live under the new covenant, the era in which God has poured out His Holy Spirit abundantly. If we are in Christ, we have His Spirit and want to follow His guidance, delighting in His law. For the regenerate person, God’s law is not a burden but a delight because it points us to Christ and shows us how to walk in His ways. View Resource

  • Law and Gospel Devotional

    Matthew 5:17–20

    Answer 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism emphasizes that we do good works because the God who justifies us also gives us His Spirit to conform us more and more to the image of Jesus Christ. Our Lord saves us from His wrath in order that we might serve Him according to His law, but we cannot serve Him unless we walk by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit empowers our obedience to God’s law, and we must ask Him daily for help that we might obey our Creator. View Resource

  • Law and Gospel Devotional

    Romans 3:21-31

    Our relativistic age does not like to hear that there is an eternal, unchangeable law that convicts all people. But the central message of the gospel is that we have broken this law and need to be reconciled to God, the great Lawgiver. If we do not know His law, however, we cannot tell people the bad news that they are estranged from God, and if we cannot preach the bad news, how can we preach the good news of salvation? View Resource

  • Dying to the Law in Christ Devotional

    Galatians 2:20

    Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage: “The doctrine of the gospel, instead of weakening the bond of duty, did but the more strengthen and confirm it; and therefore, though he was dead to the law, yet it was only in order for him to live a new and better life for God.” Only in dying to the law in Christ can we fulfill the law. Yet we can die to the law only through conversion and in the power of the Holy Spirit. View Resource

  • The Legalist Distortion Devotional

    Romans 14

    As a modern example of legalism, some Christians have said that it is wrong for believers to consume alcohol. However, while such rules may be motivated by a noble concern that people avoid the sin of drunkenness, Scripture nowhere condemns sensible drinking of alcohol, and, in fact, it commends such consumption (Ps. 104:14–15). We are free to decide ourselves not to drink, but to impose a rule like this on others is legalism. View Resource

  • The Gospel of God’s Glory Devotional

    1 Timothy 1:11

    Matthew Henry writes, “Much of the glory of God appears in the works of creation and providence, but much more in the gospel, where it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.” True preaching of the gospel must include news of the Lord’s holiness, justice, and grace, and if any of these are left out, then the glory of God is obscured because His character is not fully declared. Are you equipped to present these attributes of God when you share the gospel? View Resource

  • The Fulfillment of the Law Devotional

    Matthew 5:17–20

    The distinction between the civil, ceremonial, and moral laws of the Mosaic code is not so clear on the pages of Scripture. Nevertheless, the distinction is a helpful tool for applying this law to our lives today. We study the Mosaic law to learn what God would have us do in Christ. This law has been written on our hearts thanks to the Holy Spirit, though we still certainly struggle doing it. Make sure to spend time each week in study of the law of God. View Resource

  • God’s Law and the Christian Teaching Series with R.C. Sproul

    The place of the old covenant law in the lives of Christians has been a bone of contention since the first century. The tendency has always been toward one of two extreme errors: either antinomianism or legalism. In this series, R.C. Sproul provides a balanced look at the place of the law in the new covenant, and illustrates it through an analysis of each of the ten commandments. View Resource

  • The Law & the Gospel Audio Message by R.C. Sproul

    What is it that we can hate so much, that in turn causes us to love Christ so much? What was it that drove you to the cross? Thinking of these questions in this message, Dr. Sproul explains the role the Law of God plays in the Christian life as he looks at “The Law and the Gospel.” View Resource

  • Principle or Custom? Audio Message by R.C. Sproul

  • The Ethics of Jesus and the Law of God Audio Message by R.C. Sproul

    Did Jesus criticize the Law of God? Does the Sermon on the Mount contradict the Mosaic Law? Dr. Sproul clears this confusion in this message as he explains the perfect harmony between “The Ethics of Jesus and the Law of God.” View Resource

  • Keeping God's Law Audio Message by R.C. Sproul

    The Bible teaches that if you break one part of the Law, you have broken the whole Law. Jesus explained that anger towards our brother is murder in our hearts, and that lusting after someone is committing adultery in our hearts. Since all of us have committed these sins of the heart, why not perform the deed? Are all sins created equal? In this message, Dr. Sproul explains how to properly understand our sin in light of God’s Law and grace. View Resource

  • Chapter 19, Sec. 6-Chapter 20, Sec. 4 Video Message by John Gerstner

    The Westminster Confession of Faith has, for hundreds of years, served as the doctrinal foundation of the Reformed churches. In this message, Dr. John Gerstner completes his examination of God’s law and starts a study on the question of Christian liberty and conscience. View Resource

  • Good Advice or Good News? Video Message by R.C. Sproul

    In many American churches, the Good News of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us has been replaced with Good Advice about what we can do for God. We have replaced the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified with an easy-listening legalism of “do more and try harder.” In this message, Dr. R.C. Sproul explains the crucial difference between the law and the Gospel and why it is absolutely necessary for Christians to know this difference. View Resource

  • Do Not Cause Another To Stumble Sermon by R.C. Sproul

    Romans 14:14-18

    View Resource

  • Freed from the Law Sermon by R.C. Sproul

    Romans 7:1-6

    View Resource

  • The Antinomian Way of Justification Blog Post by John Gerstner

    We are dealing now with a group of people who, apart from this doctrine, are genuinely orthodox. They have no doubt whatever that justification is by faith alone. And when they speak of justification, they mean the remission of sins by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the incarnate second person of the Godhead, who was born of the Virgin Mary, fulfilled the law on our behalf, was delivered up for our offenses, and rose again bodily for our justification.  View Resource

  • 2010 Ligonier Pastors Conference - R.C. Sproul (VIII) Blog Post by Robert Rothwell

    One of the dangers that often goes unrecognized in the church today is the problem of the tyranny of the weaker brother. On Wednesday afternoon at our pastors conference, Dr. R.C. Sproul gave a timely lecture on the subject. His main text was Romans 14. View Resource

  • Does God’s Law Change? Blog Post by R.C. Sproul Jr.

    His law doesn’t change. The application of it does. Theologians wisely distinguish between natural law and positive law. This distinction, however, must be distinguished from natural law and revealed law. The latter distinction separates what we learn about God’s law from the created order, and what we learn from His Word. The former, however, distinguishes between the underlying, unchangeable principles, inherent in the nature of things, and the specific purposes of a particular law. View Resource

  • 5 Things I’m Still Sure about God’s Law Blog Post by R.C. Sproul Jr.

    There’s been a bit of a hubbub of late on God’s law. Which is odd, isn’t it, since neither it, nor He has changed in some time. It is true enough that there are plenty of ways to get His law wrong. Just ask Paul. But here are five positive things about the law that I am positive about. View Resource