The law turned into gospel

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by MW, Jan 14, 2011.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The law turned into gospel -- a most serious error or a most glorious truth?

    Thomas Goodwin (Works, 6:261):

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

    These are undoubtedly faithful expressions of that glorious truth taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith, 19.6,

  2. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    In other words, for the Christian, the law and the gospel are not in a dichotomous opposition to one another. Unlike the Lutherans, the Reformed testify of a graciously sweet harmony between the two.
  3. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    The law turned into gospel
    Or sinners granted repentance by God, now rightly related to God's law,given a new heart at regeneration,can begin to exercise an obediance of faith, as unprofitable servants, to the Glory of God's grace.

    Sin debt paid for,a service debt due......Samuel Bolton
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I would say it is a most serious truth. Anyone who would say it is "serious error" is probably being negligent of Reformed Theology in the Past.
  5. Heidelberg1

    Heidelberg1 Puritan Board Freshman

    Depending on the definition of gospel in each usage, this could be a most serious error. In fact, it could be a damnable error.

    But I take it that gospel in each usage does not refer to the evangel through which a person is saved by grace through faith. So a person who held to these convictions would need to define their terms carefully, especially what is meant by law and what is meant by gospel in each usage of these quotes.

    Michael Horton may shed some light here:

    Dr. William Perkins (1558-1602): The Elizabethan Puritan Par Excellance!


  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Not sure Perkins is correct on point the first....
    But I don't know what Perkins is getting at.

    Last edited: Jan 19, 2011
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Jeremiah Burroughs.... Gospel Conversation.

    Their is a distinction in parts of a whole but you can not separate the parts from the whole or it is not the thing it was. Jeremiah Burroughs does a great job defining the Gospel from the scriptures.
  8. hrdiaz

    hrdiaz Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think Paul and William Perkins are using the term "spiritual" in the same sense. From what I understand, when Paul says "We know that the Law is spiritual" he is referring to its Holy and Divine Origin in contrast to his own carnal corruption, whereas when Perkins says that the Law is natural and not spiritual he seems to be saying that the Gospel is not naturally written on man's heart, as the Law is, but is revealed from Heaven (i.e. it is spiritual).

    I don't see any conflict between Paul's words in Romans 7:14 and Perkins' words.


    ---------- Post added at 04:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:44 PM ----------

    I'm not familiar with any Lutherans who do this. Do you have any particular theologians in mind? I haven't read much Lutheran theology, but I recently read through C.F.W Walther's The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel and, although it was basically a series of transcribed lectures, it didn't seem to differ very much from Colquhoun's A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel. Coming from an Arminian background that continually mixed Law and Gospel, and having escaped from a seeker sensitive church where the Law is the Gospel (i.e. where the Gospel is presented as "Love God and love your Neighbor"), I have found the Orthodox Lutherans to be very helpful in this area of theology.
  9. Heidelberg1

    Heidelberg1 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for challenging me. I want to respond, but in fear and trembling, fear that I have drifted off into contra-confessional grounds.

    Here is what I think Perkins is getting at, although this is from Colquhoun who is nearly 200 years after.

    So I think that there is a stream of thought that slices the moral law into two parts; 1) the natural which is engraved into us at creation, and 2) the positive which are the commands of God. Paul quotes from the positive part of the moral law.

    I am less confident in that distinction. The main reason I quoted Perkins was to show that he saw a clear distinction between law and gospel.



    Just noticed Hiram's edited post which mentions Colquhoun too.
  10. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    To echo Hiram's words, the Lutherans are often said to deny the third use of the law. They do no such thing! At least, not all Lutherans deny the third use of the law. Article 6 of the Formula of Concord: "Since it is established that the Law of God was given to men for three causes: first, that a certain external discipline might be preserved, and wild and intractable men might be restrained, as it were, by certain barriers; secondly, that by the Law men might be brought to an acknowledgment of their sings; thirdly, that regenerate men, to all of whom, nevertheless, much of the flesh still cleaves, for that very reason may have some certain rule after which they man and ought to shape their life, etc., a controversy has arisen among some few theologians concerning the third use of the Law, to wit: whether the Law is to be inculcated upon the regenerate also, and its observation urged upon them or not? Some have judged that the Law should be urged, others have denied it" (Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, III, pp. 130-131). The FC goes on to affirm in no uncertain terms the third use of the law.
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    While your heart is tender of that point it might be worth the effort to clarify the English Puritan's thought.

    First, he has not written anything which is contrary to Drs. Goodwin and Rutherford. A difference between law and gospel is presupposed in the affirmation that the law is turned into gospel for the regenerate believer. That is only possible if there is a difference between them to begin with.

    Secondly, it would be well if the English Puritan were read in the context of the primary source, which is his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. Secondary references from blogs are next to useless. In the primary source we find an expanded explanation of the differences. That expanded explanation shows that the ideas of "do and done" as summarising the difference between law and gospel were foreign to his teaching. The law and the gospel are the same in the sense that they both command; the difference is in what they command and the way they command. This is detailed in relation to faith, repentance, and obedience. The gospel commands them. On the point of obedience it is clarified that the moral duties of the law are in fact transformed by the gospel: "for obedience, though it bee commaunded both by the Law and the Gospel, yet not in the same manner: The Law commaundeth obedience euery way perfect, both in parts, and in degrees, and alloweth none other: but the Gospel commaundeth, and in Christ approoueth imperfect obedience; that is, an indeauour in all things, to obey and please God, if it be without hypocrisie. Againe, the Law commandeth obedience, as a worke to bee done, for the obtaining of saluation: but the Gospel requires obedience, onely to testifie our faith and thankefulnesse vnto God." Such a statement shows that the English Puritan taught the transformation of the commands of the law prior to Drs. Goodwin and Rutherford. All of them demonstrate that the believer's obedience does not answer to the law but to the gospel in contrast to the law.
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    William Perkins also has a section on Christ fulfilling the law in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount. In that section he identifies how Christ fulfils the law in men.

  13. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore


    No comprehension of grace, which is indeed to be found in the moral Law of God, is gained apart from the revelation of the MEDIATORSHIP of Jesus Christ.

    ---------- Post added at 07:20 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:11 PM ----------

    "In men" or "for men?"
  14. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    "In men," explained as follows, "by giuing them his owne spirit, which maketh them indeauour to fulfill the Law; which in Christ is accepted for perfect obedience in this life, and in the life to come is perfect indeede."
  15. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    If Christ did not fulfill the Law in His own Person for men, but rather fulfills the Law in elect men . . . what happens to the truth of righteousness gifted by grace and imputation, alone?
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Let us get back to the truth. Justification is by Faith alone. But that faith is Gospel. It is also something that converts, saves, and changes the world or St. Paul and Peter wouldn't even care. We are a part of that Gospel.
  17. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well, we are either justified by faith in Christ's accomplishments, alone, or we are justified by something we are enabled (and expected) to do on our own.

    I think my question is legitimate and pertinent.

    Did Christ fulfill all the Law as Mediator; or did Christ fulfill all the Law as an "enabler?"
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    But it was explicitly affirmed that Christ fulfilled the law in His own Person for the sake of the elect. That was the first point: "First, by creating faith in their hearts, whereby they laie hold on Christ, who for them fulfilled it." The second point should not be taken without the first point, and the first point should not be stressed at the expense of the second point. Verses 3 and 4 of Romans 8 should not be separated or made exclusive of one another. What the law could not do has been done by Christ, and what Christ has done results in the righteousness of the law being fulfilled in believers. To separate the two is to set Christ over against Himself.
  19. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Lane, I once quoted this article to a Lutheran theologian and he assured me I was false in considering it to be the same as the reformed third use of the law. His argument was that Concord has established two lenses for reading Scripture -- law and gospel; so that law is never anything other than law and works are never considered to be a part of the gospel. The believer is either a new man who is dead to the law or an old man being killed by the law. This, he claimed, is its third use. At that time I had discovered no material which could contradict his interpretation, and to date I have never come across anything to the contrary.
  20. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    To steal a phrase.... I agree with Rev. Winzer and the old Presbyterians.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    We are so stupid about our forefathers. If only I could post from all I read in Gospel Conversations. And I am so clueless.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Is this the Gospel or not?
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
  23. hrdiaz

    hrdiaz Puritan Board Freshman

    Calvin on Romans 8:4,

    John Gill's remarks seem to be helpful here as well. He writes,

    Hodge is in agreement with Calvin and Gill in his commentary on Romans (it's on page 399, you can search for the passage at google books, here's the link).

  24. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    What (SINGS )are they acknowleging?

    ---------- Post added at 10:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:06 AM ----------

    Great post Pastor Winzer,so many just don't get this important point on what purpose the Law serves for the Christians life lived in the pursuit of Holiness.
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    We have already noted Samuel Rutherford's understanding of the passage in terms of "begun new obedience" in the first post. This is a typical reformed interpretation. Numerous reformed commentators take issue with the justification only interpretation of this passage. First, it is inappropriate to say that righteousness is fulfilled in believers in terms of justification. That would mean Christ's work without us is in fact within us. Or, it would give ground to Antinomians to say that the believer has nothing more to do with the demands of the law since he is reckoned to have already fulfilled it. See especially Thomas Manton's comments in his sermon on this verse. He distinguishes the true and the false sense of how Christ's active obedience comes to be imputed to believers. Secondly, there are real benefits distinct from legal benefits announced in the passage and these are left without any connection to the work of Christ if it is understood of justification. John Murray's commentary is useful for showing the connecting thought. Concerning Calvin and Hodge, they are both careful not to separate justification and sanctification, so their strained interpretation is balanced somewhat by their dogmatic commitments. As for Gill, I leave him in a class by himself, which is where he was usually delighted to be.
  26. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This is quite true yet very sad. Failure to understand this point would make obedience a grievous burden rather than an easy yoke.
  27. ServantsHeart

    ServantsHeart Puritan Board Freshman

    I wish I had a dime for every time I and my Church have been called Legalist because of our love for the Commandents of our Holy and good GOD. When this happens I ask my accusers which of the Commandments can you break without bringing the Fathers correction upon you? They will say they can't break any of them without sinning. Then they will catch themselves and say the Fourth is not one they must keep because they are not Jews. Then I ask when was this one made null and void? And they say because we are under grace not the Law,and I say what about the other 9 are they the Moral Law of GOD? And they say yes but the Fourth is not a Moral Law for Christians only Jews. I ask about the day of rest Sanctified/Set Apart by GOD for man for rest and spiritual devotion to Him in Genesis? They say that is the Law and we are not under the Law,then I point out this was before the Law was given to Moses. They say well Moses wrote it so he must have viewed it as part of the Law even in Genesis. And on and on it goes until you just want to pull your hair out. So much confusion and avoidence of agreeing that GOD has a Moral Standard that is set for us in the Church along with gloriuos connected precepts and wisdom which flow from the main trunk of the Ten Words like fruit laden branches on the Tree of a holy life.
  28. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Hard to find a better example of this antithetical view of Law/Gospel than this from Scott Clark:

    "The Law and the Gospel are necessarily dichotomous since the former only condemns and the {latter} only justifies"
  29. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    That is a good example. Especially considering that it is in the context of the doctrine of justification. What Reformed theologian denies this antithetical relation in regards to justification?

    However, if the example was given as a way to discredit his view of sanctification, then the rest of the context in which this example is given is most helpful:
    Westminster Seminary California

    Three things of notice:
    1. the law and gospel are opposed to one another at the point of justification. The law does not justify.
    2. isolating one statement out of a systematic theology context is a disservice to one's entire thought
    3. the law is affirmed as in harmony with gospel later on in point 22 of section 8, among many other theses to the same, especially point 39 of section 5 (just 3 points after the given example)
  30. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Perhaps a simple observation is in order here: turning law into gospel is very different from turning gospel into law.
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