The Law and Gospel By Ernest Reisinger
If you are not familiar with Ernest Reisinger, you should be! He was one of R.C. Sprouls dearest friends and would stand outside many of the Southern Baptist seminaries handing out- James P Boyce's "Abstract of Theology". During his life, he was calling back Southern Baptists to their roots. Namely, returning back to their heritage of Calvinism.
Why is the subject of "law and gospel" important? Let me state six reasons: 1.Because there is no point of divine truth upon which ministers and Christians make greater mistakes than upon the proper relationship which exists between the law and the gospel.
2.Because there can be no true evangelical holiness, either in heart or life, except it proceed from faith working by love; and no true faith, either of the law or the gospel, unless the leading distinction between the one and the other are spiritually discerned. The law and the gospel are set before us in the Bible as one undivided system of truth, yet an unchangeable line of distinction is drawn between them. There is also an inseparable connection and relationship. Unfortunately, some see the difference between them but not the relationship; however, the man who knows the relative position of the law and the gospel has the keys of the situation in understanding the Bible and its doctrine.
3.Because a proper understanding between the law and the gospel is the mark of a minister who rightly divides the word of truth. Charles Bridges summed up this mark of a true minister: "The mark of a minister `approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed', is, that he `rightly divides the word of truth.' This implies a full and direct application of the gospel to the mass of his unconverted hearers, combines with a body of spiritual instruction to the several classes of Christians. His system will be marked by Scriptural symmetry and comprehensiveness. It will embrace the whole revelation of God, in its doctrinal instructions, experimental privileges and practical results. This revelation is divided into two parts--the Law and the Gospel--essentially distinct from each other; though so intimately connected, that no accurate knowledge of either can be obtained without the other...." (The Christian Ministry, [London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1967], p. 222).
The law, like Christ, has always been crucified between two thieves--Antinomianism on the one side and Legalism on the other side. The antinomian sees no relationship between the law and the gospel except that of being free. The legalist fails to understand that vital distinction between the two.
Some preach the law instead of the gospel. Some modify them and preach neither the law nor the gospel. Some think the law is the gospel, and some think the gospel is the law; those who hold these views are not clear on either.
But others ask, Has not the law been fully abrogated by the coming of Christ into the world? Would you bring us under that heavy yoke of bondage which none has ever been able to bear? Does not the New Testament expressly declare that we are not under the law but under grace? That Christ was made under the law to free His people therefrom? Is not an attempt to over-awe men's conscience by the authority of the Decalogue a legalistic imposition, altogether at variance with that Christian liberty which the Savior has brought in by His obedience unto death? We answer: so far from the law being abolished by the coming of Christ into this world, He Himself emphatically stated "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [or the enforcers thereof]. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law, till all is fulfilled" (Matt. 5:17, 18). True, the Christian is not under the law as a covenant of works nor as a ministration of condemnation, but he is under it as a rule of life and an objective standard of righteousness for all people for all times. This makes it important.
4.Because the power of a holy life needs to be accompanied by instruction in the pattern of it. In what does sanctified behavior consist? It consists in pleasing God. What is it that pleases God? The doing of His will. Where is His will to be discerned? In His holy law. The law, then, is the Christian's rule of life, and the believer finds that he delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). The Christian is not lawless but "under the law to Christ", a phrase from Paul which would be more accurately rendered "in the law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21). Sin is lawlessness, and salvation is the bringing of the lawless one into his true relation to God, within the blessedness of His holy law. The law of Moses is not other than the law of Christ; it is an objective standard just as Christ is our pattern.
5.Because the Ten Commandments were uniquely honored by God, founded in love, and are obeyed out of affection for the One who provided redemption. A. W. Pink, writing about the uniqueness of the Ten Commandments, said, "Their uniqueness appears first in that this revelation of God at Sinai--which was to serve for all coming ages as the grand expression of his holiness and the summation of man's duty--was attended with such awe-inspiring phenomena that the very manner of their publication plainly showed that God Himself assigned to the Decalogue peculiar importance. The Ten Commandments were uttered by God in an audible voice, with the fearful adjuncts of clouds and darkness, thunders and lightenings and the sound of a trumpet, and they were the only parts of Divine Revelation so spoken--none of the ceremonial or civil precepts were thus distinguished. Those Ten Words, and they alone, were written by the finger of God upon tables of stone, and they alone were deposited in the holy ark for safe keeping. Thus, in the unique honor conferred upon the Decalogue itself we nay perceive its paramount importance in the Divine government." (The Ten Commandments, ([Swengel Pennsylvania: Reiner Publications 1961], p.5).
6.Because there is a need for a fixed, objective, moral standard. The moral law carries permanent validity since it is an objective standard uniquely sanctioned by God and goes straight to the root of our moral problems. It lays its finger on the church's deepest need in evangelism as well as in the Christian life: sanctification. The Ten Commandments are desperately needed not only in the church but also in society. We live in a lawless age at the end of the twentieth century; lawlessness reigns in the home, in the church, in the school, and in the land. The Scriptures tell us that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." The Ten Commandments are the only true standard of righteousness.
Read more here: http://www.founders.org/journal/fj28/article1.html
You can find the book here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/?which=1&search=The+Law+and+the+Gospel